Smith hails 'terrific' Hodgson
Full-back admits he may have got lucky with the disallowed try
Last Updated: 25/08/12 7:17pm
Brett Hodgson: influential for the Wolves, including kicking five goals
Warrington coach Tony Smith was full of praise for Brett Hodgson after the full-back inspired the Wolves to Carnegie Challenge Cup glory.
The experienced Australian had a hand in two tries, scored one himself and kicked five goals to help his side see off Leeds 35-18 in a pulsating final at a rain-soaked Wembley on Saturday.
"I've said before he's not the fastest, strongest - or even the best-looking - but he knows how to play footy."
Tony Smith Quotes of the week
Hodgson's heroics - even more impressive after he had taken a heavy knock in a collision with Rhinos forward Kylie Leuluai at the start of the second half - secured Warrington the trophy for a third time in the last four years.
"He was terrific for us," Smith said. "He copped a pounding today. He took some knocks, but he got up. He is a tough bloke.
"I've said before he's not the fastest, strongest - or even the best-looking - but he knows how to play footy.
"What he lacks in pace and size compared to other full-backs he makes up for in smartness.
"He orchestrated some of those tries - they were planned by him, not the coaches."
Joel Monaghan and Trent Waterhouse touched down in the first half before Warrington moved clear after the break, including a purple patch that saw them run in three tries in the space of 10 minutes.
However it was the incident involving Hodgson and Leuluai that was the crucial moment in the match, with the latter being ruled to have knocked on as the ball came loose from his opponent's grasp.
The decision by video referee Phil Bentham chalked off a try for Brett Delaney that would have put Leeds in front at the time.
Smith, who used to coach the Rhinos, said: "There were probably a lot of crucial points but it is about taking your opportunities when they arrive.
"In these sort of matches sometimes you only get a few and if you don't take them it can hurt you.
"You have got to make them happen and I thought we did make them happen, particularly in the second half."
Leeds played their part in a competitive first half, Ian Kirke grabbing a rare try to go alongside four points from the boot of Kevin Sinfield, but they struggled as Warrington built momentum in the second period.
Kallum Watkins went over twice late on but the exciting centrer's brace did no more than give the final scoreline a more respectable look.
"We spent the majority of the first half without momentum and I thought we were in good nick to come in within touching distance," Rhinos coach Brian McDermott said.
"We found ourselves in a situation there where Kylie Leuluai dislodged the ball legally and it was a disallowed try.
"I thought that was a big, big part of what happened in the second half.
"Yes we need to be better and we conceded a few tries just after that, and we need to be able to stop those.
"But when you hope when you find yourselves in situations that you plan for you would get your rewards."
McDermott was bemused by Bentham's interpretation of the Hodgson-Leuluai incident, with the official deciding that a double knock-on had taken place.
He added: "I didn't see a knock-on from anybody. I just thought the ball came out of the back of his arm.
"That said, Warrington were the better team on the day. They played well and deserved the win.
"We dust ourselves off, stay tight as a group, learn from it.
"We have got one hell of a lot of young players in that group who have gained some valuable experience from that."
Hodgson - who was named the Lance Todd Trophy winner for his individual efforts - admitted he may have got a lucky break.
"I was trying to get out of his way as quick as possible," the Australian said.
"He is a champion bloke and there was nothing wrong with his tackle - he just got me good. I was probably lucky not to concede a try in that play."
As for being named man of the match, the former Huddersfield skipper commented: "It's huge. I have been very fortunate through my career to play with some great players, win an NRL Grand Final and now this.
"It is very humbling to receive such an honour. It is going to be something I look back on with great admiration and I am very excited and honoured to accept it."