Sunday’s Brother vs Brother clash wasn’t quite as anticipated as the two blokes in pink pictured grappling with each other for half an hour, though both Smith Brothers are held in as high regard as coaches as the Hart brothers were in the wrestling world.
Tony’s team beating Brian’s isn’t quite the big deal that Owen beating Bret Hart was back in 1994 – a) Wire had bummed Wakefield once already this season and b) the figurative torch has already been passed to younger Tony, who has Grand Final, Challenge Cup and World Club Challenge successes on his CV alongside the England job, but it was the first time they’ve ever faced each other in opposing dug outs, despite their many years in coaching.
Brian’s coaching career is impressive, too, and is credited by many for getting the Bull-Mania bandwagon rolling in the mid-nineties. He went on to guide Parramatta to a Grand Final appearance in 2001 before coaching Newcastle Knights and Sydney Roosters.
Despite this stellar résumé, the poor bastard has somehow found himself at Wakefield and faces what must seem like a near-impossible task to keep the Wildcats in Super League after a dreadful season.
To their credit, Wakefield have certainly improved somewhat since the elder Smith’s return to West Yorkshire, but they were a distant second best against a depleted Wire team that rarely got out of second gear.
Missing 10 first team regulars through injury and suspension, Tony Smith reshuffled his pack – literally – with Ben Harrison propping, Joe Philbin continuing his first team run and Stefan Ratchford returning to the loose forward position for the first time since that loss at Odsal last season.
Like that defeat to Bradford, Sunday certainly felt like another potential banana skin. Having disposed of Wigan last week, losing at Wakey would’ve been the most Warrington thing ever.
There was no need to fret, though, as Wire ran in seven tries to cancel out Jacob Miller’s best Lee Penny impression. The former Wests Tigers half back, released by Hull after only a season and half, notched four tries in a gallant effort to single-handedly drag his team into the game.
His first and third tries were both dives from dummy half near the try line – in truth, really poor tries to concede – but his other two were fine solo efforts, even if his second try would’ve possibly been ruled out by the video referee had the game been televised.
Stefan Ratchford opened the scoring for Wire early on; Harrison’s short ball put Chris Hill through a gap and the future Wire captain slipped a nice pass to Stef to stroll in, having attracting the attention of full back Kevin Locke.
From the sublime to the ridiculous, our next try came when Jordan Tansey – who was once actually signed by Sydney Roosters – had a trademark brain explosion and tried to offload the ball despite being gang tackled near his own try line, allowing Joe Philbin probably the easiest try he will ever score.
Miller scored his first try to give the hosts a glimmer of hope, but Matty Russell collected Westwood’s offload to dance over to extend our lead. Gaz O’Brien missed the kick from just next to the sticks to provide the home crowd with a bit of temporary comic relief.
Wakefield again turned the ball over near their own line when Ryan Atkins stripped the ball in the tackle, providing the field position for Ben Westwood to barge over against his old team.
Miller scored two tries either side of half-time before Daryl Clark threw a couple of dummies to dance through the defence and dive over.
It was then Dwyer’s turn to shine. The diminutive hooker has been impressive since being recalled from his loan spell at London and, having been introduced off the bench after the break, he took advantage of a tiring defence with a trademark dart from dummy half and broke the line before releasing a neat offload to allow Myler to romp home as Locke tried to halt his progress.
After a fortnight of spectacular tries from Wire players, the rugby gods decided it was our turn to have one scored against us and Miller’s final try of the game was a beauty; he collected an offload to dance round a couple of defenders, grubber past Russell and touch down. The 22 year old won many admirers with his individual performance and Wakey will pin their hopes of surviving in the middle eight playoffs on him. If he is in that kind of form, he will surely rip at least a couple of the Championship teams apart, but he will need his team mates to help him out if they are avoid the drop.
There was enough time for another try for the healthy – if silent – Wire following to applaud when a nice Roy Asotasi offload found Russell who brushed aside Kevin Locke to seal the victory.