Sport Smith: Play-off win 'enormous' for Hull KR
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Tony Smith hailed the enormity of Hull Kingston Rovers reaching the Super League semi-finals after his side produced one of the biggest upsets in play-off history.
The 19-0 victory over his old club Warrington Wolves takes the Robins to within 80 minutes of a maiden Grand Final, just 12 months after they finished the 2020 season with the wooden spoon.
Their reward is a semi-final against League Leaders' Shield winners Catalans Dragons in Perpignan next Thursday which guarantees a new Grand Finalist.
"It's fantastic," Smith said. "We've been trying to break into that. It's enormous for our club. Probably not many people gave us much of a chance.
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"I'm really pleased for the owner [Neil Hudgell] - it's been a long time between drinks. I like the attitude of my guys, they pulled together for each other.
"We had a great build-up despite being flat last week and to come here and find enough energy to win the game makes me really proud."
Rovers led 6-0 at half-time thanks to a try from stand-off Jordan Abdull while his half-back partner Mikey Lewis added a solo effort early in the second half and winger Jimmy Keinhorst clinched it with a third try 13 minutes from the end.
"It was a messy old game but we rode through it a little better than them and we grew as we got further into it," Smith added.
"We were able to pretty much handle anything that was thrown at us. I'm really proud of their last-ditch defence to come up with some of the try-savers that we did.
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"I thought it was awesome. It showed how much pride they have in their defence and to do it against a team with so many stars was fairly remarkable really.
"Last week we got out-enthused but we managed to out-enthuse our opposition today. We've got to find it again on Thursday."
Hull KR defied the absence of nine senior players to condemn the Wolves to a third successive home play-off defeat.
The hero was former Hull FC and London Broncos half-back Abdull, who underlined his Man of Steel credentials with a masterful display, capped by a try, three goals and a drop goal.
"He ran the show," said Smith. "This has been coming for him. He's had some really strong performances over the years but they're coming regularly for him.
"That's what Man of Steel is about, doing it consistently. Jordan's getting more confidence about him and more wisdom as he matures."
The shock result brought to an abrupt end the four-year reign of Smith's successor Steve Price, who will return to Australia with a Challenge Cup winners' medal but with the big prize still eluding him.
"We got what we deserved tonight," Price said. "I never saw that coming, it's gut-wrenching to be honest.
"Full credit to Hull KR who came with some high energy and played some good football. We didn't handle it. The number of errors was atrocious. I think there were 21 in total and you are never going to give yourselves a chance in rugby league.
"There were so many pressure releases and we were not able to build pressure. I'm going to have to take the next couple of days to reflect. We played some reasonable footy throughout the season and I thought we were getting some momentum.
"We were at full-strength apart from Mike Cooper and had everything going for us, but we dished out our worst performance, which is not acceptable. We got beaten in every facet."
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