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Smith: Wolves better for stern test
Warrington coach Tony Smith admits his side will go into Sunday's Challenge Cup semi-final against Huddersfield battle-hardened after a close-fought Stobart Super League win over Catalan Dragons.
The Wolves bounced back from their shock 48-24 defeat at Salford to claim the points with a 15-6 victory that enabled them to hang onto second spot in the table. Tries from England internationals Ben Westwood and Ryan Atkins put Warrington 10-0 up but they were forced to defend desperately when the Dragons fought back with a Jason Baitieri try.
"It was a real step-up in intensity, particularly after last week," said Smith. "It was a contrast for us in terms of how organised our defence was."
He added: "I thought it was a high-class game of rugby league. Neither team was at their best in attack but there were two committed defences and you had to graft your way through it. It was hard, tough rugby league.
"We were up against one of the best teams in the competition and we lifted our intensity. The Catalans are a very good team and at the back end of the year they will be up there threatening."
Smith was forced to change his team just before kick-off when stand-off Lee Briers pulled out with an Achilles injury, with Stefan Ratchford demonstrating his versatility by switching from the full-back role he held in his previous games for club and country.
"Lee trained all week but his Achilles wasn't right to play," said Smith. "It came as a shock to us all. Stefan did a fantastic job to say he didn't know he was playing until 40 minutes before kick-off."
The Catalans' bid to move into second place was thwarted with a first defeat in three games but coach Trent Robinson was pleased with his side's efforts and believes watching England cricketer Stuart Broad will have enjoyed his first live match of rugby league.
"You want to see more of those battles in our game," he said. "We had more arm wrestles than we've had in a long, long time and it was good to see.
"We could have fallen apart in that first half but we fought our way back in. I'm disappointed with our execution but the attitude and the defence that we've created over the last three weeks shows we're heading in the right direction."