Smith pleased with improvement

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16th September 2013

Warrington Wolves coach Tony Smith believes his side are better equipped than before to complete a maiden Grand Final triumph after making an impressive start to the Super League play-offs.

Last year's beaten finalists earned themselves a week off after thumping reigning champions Leeds Rhinos 40-20 in the second qualifying play-off at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Saturday.

England second rower Ben Westwood scored four of his side's seven tries as the Wolves justified their billing as title favourites.

"It was a good solid performance," Smith said. "Leeds are a much-improved team on last year, they're a more dangerous team.

"We needed to produce a good performance against them and fortunately we did.

"They had their say at different stages and I thought Rob Burrow was outstanding in the first half. He was almost untouchable at times.

"But our players stuck with it. I think we've learned some valuable lessons in a year.

"We've been working towards the finals and working towards playing in a certain fashion against some of the dangers that are still within the competition.

"Today was good but we're going to have another stiff test in a fortnight from somebody else, or possibly Leeds."

Warrington will choose their semi-final opponents after league leaders Huddersfield Giants lost the right to ClubCall following their opening defeat by Wigan Warriors.

Smith will have full-back Brett Hodgson back for the semi-final after missing Saturday's game with an Achilles problem and he also expects England scrum-half Richie Myler to be available after recovering from a knee injury.

Leeds get a second bite of the cherry against St Helens at Headingley on Friday while the first preliminary semi-final will take place 24 hours earlier when Huddersfield meet Hull FC at the John Smith's Stadium with a chance to avenge a 46-10 rout in last year's play-offs.

Schedule for the second week of the Super League play-off series:

Thursday, September 19: preliminary semi-final - Huddersfield v Hull (8pm).

Friday, September 20: preliminary semi-final: Leeds v St Helens (8pm).