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Smith revels in Westwood display
Warrington coach Tony Smith was ecstatic with the four-try performance of forward Ben Westwood that helped his team to a 40-20 victory over reigning champions Leeds in today's qualifying play-off.
The England second rower missed out on selection for the 2013 Super League Dream Team but showed his class as the Wolves destroyed their 2012 Grand-Final conquerors to move to within 80 minutes of a return to Old Trafford.
The tough-tackling Westwood was at the heart of Warrington's try spree, touching down twice in each half, much to the delight of his admiring coach.
"It was great for him to get some of the accolades," Smith said. "He works his cotton socks off every week doing the rough and tough stuff.
"He doesn't always get the spoils but today he got a bit of the cream and put a cherry on top.
"I know he didn't get Dream Team recognition but he's been in good form for months on end."
Westwood was pushed for the individual honours by veteran stand-off Lee Briers, who scored one try and helped set up three others, and replacement hooker Michael Monaghan, who created two of the Wolves' seven tries.
"I thought 'Monas' was terrific," Smith said. "It was his best performance for over a year and I'm pleased for him."
Briers was given a warning by referee James Child after sparking a mini brawl with a punch on Leeds forward Carl Ablett 22 minutes into the match but his actions were defended by Smith.
"Sometimes you've got to defend yourself if things are not dealt with in the right manner," he said.
Leeds coach Brian McDermott distanced himself from the controversial incident, as well as the decision of video referee Phil Bentham to give Westwood the benefit of the doubt for his second try.
"It looked like Zak (Hardaker) had done a fantastic job of holding him up but I couldn't see clearly so I will have to reserve judgement," McDermott said.
"I don't think the Lee Briers incident had a bearing on the game. I don't think he was having such a huge influence on his team."
Centre Ryan Atkins and makeshift scrum-half Simon Grix were Warrington's other tryscorers as last year's beaten Grand Finalists earned themselves a week off and the chance to select their semi-final opponents.
Smith is an arch critic of the controversial ClubCall system and re-iterated his determination to have nothing to do with it.
"I have no prefence and I'm not going to participate in it," he said. "If they make me go, I will happily toss a coin."
Warrington will have full-back Brett Hodgson back for the semi-final in a fortnight after missing the opening play-off tie with an Achilles problem and Smith also expects England scrum-half Richie Myler to be available.
"I'll hopefully have a couple of selection headaches," he said.
Leeds were back to full strength with the return from suspension of prop Ryan Bailey and they opened up a 10-6 lead thanks to tries in the first quarter from England centre Kallum Watkins and skipper Kevin Sinfield.
However, they were blown away by Westwood's efforts either side of half-time and, although full-back Zak Hardaker touched down for two late tries, they finished a well-beaten side.
"We finished a lot worse than we started," said McDermott. "In the first 10 or 15 minutes we were not far way from where we needed to be but midway through the second half we were not there at all.
"Warrington were very good. Physically they dominated the game and executed some brilliant plays."
Leeds will still have a chance to keep alive their bid for a hat-trick of titles as they prepare for a home tie in next Friday's preliminary semi-final but they must hope this seven-try defeat does not shake their confidence.
"We wanted to win and have next weekend off," McDermott added. "Nobody wants to carry a loss through them in the play-offs.
"We've got to turn things around in training and develop a more steely attitude for the next game."