Wakefield conjure up Brian Smith coup to steal Magic Weekend

Wakefield suffered a 56-16 drubbing by Castleford on the final day of the Magic Weekend at Newcastle’s St James’ Park

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The Independent Online

Veteran coaching guru Brian Smith is the new head coach of Super League strugglers Wakefield following an announcement which surpassed anything that occurred at Magic Weekend as far as surprises were concerned.

The older brother of Warrington coach Tony Smith was announced as successor to fellow Australian James Webster shortly before Wakefield’s 56-16 drubbing by Castleford on the final day of the Magic Weekend at Newcastle’s St James’ Park.

Smith led Bradford to the Challenge Cup final in 1996 and Hull to the Premiership final five years earlier and Wakefield’s caretaker coach Stuart Dickens was in no doubt he was what the club needed. “I think Brian is a great appointment for the club,” he said. “He’s very high quality and he has bags of experience. He’s known for being a taskmaster and the players are going to have to accept some criticism and have some broad shoulders at times.”

Asked what Smith is taking over, he added: “A bunch of under-performing players. We have players who have played in finals and have hundreds of appearances, but at this moment in time they’re playing nowhere near their ability and Brian’s first thing will be to get a response out of them.”

Dickens was scathing about his side’s 10-try capitulation in yesterday’s game, though. “Our second half today was not acceptable for the Super League. We weren’t good enough today and there’s only the players that can get us out of this,” he said.

Earlier Paul Anderson also held little back with his criticism after watching his Huddersfield side throw away a 16-point lead and then salvage a draw against Catalans.

After conceding a run of 22 points without reply, the Giants escaped with a 22-22 draw after Jermaine McGillvary’s flying try and Danny Brough’s touchline conversion with the last play of the game.

But Anderson, the Giants’ head coach, was in no mood to celebrate getting a draw. “I just asked a question in the changing room,” he said. “Was it a point won or a point lost? It was a point lost. The second half was pathetic, we were awful. Catalans had a fair say in that as their important people started playing, but we were like tissue paper. They kept running through us.

“We were 16-0 up and that’s bad game management from us,” he added.

Laurent Frayssinous, the Catalans head coach, was equally disgruntled. He saw Todd Carney spark into life in the second half with two tries as part of a wonderful display of creativity, but then watched as the ex-Sydney Rooster went off with an upper body injury.

Warrington coach Tony Smith admitted his side were “rubbish” as they let slip a  16-8 half-time lead to go down 20-16 to St Helens.

Wolves were good value for their lead after carving out tries for full-back Stefan Ratchford, loose forward Ben Harrison and centre Ryan Atkins, but Saints turned the tables after the break, skipper Jon Wilkin scoring the match-winning try on 58 minutes.

“It was a case of two halves,” Smith said. “In the first half I thought we were really good and we handled most of what Saints threw at us. In the second half we were rubbish – rubbish with the ball, turning it over way too many times, and really soft defensively.”

On Saturday Kevin Brown scored a hat-trick for Widnes as they beat 12-man Salford 38-16. Brothers Darrell, Josh and George Griffin played together for Salford for the first time, but Darrell was sent off while Josh was sin-binned. Hull FC beat their City rivals Rovers 46-20, with Fetuli Talanoa scoring three of Hull’s eight tries. Wigan beat Leeds 27-12 to go second.