Tony Smith praised Hull KR captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall after he led his side to a Betfred Super League double over fellow play-off contenders Wigan with a 26-14 win at Craven Park.
Rovers led 16-14 at the break but kept the Warriors scoreless for the whole of the second half as Kenny-Dowall helped the home side to an important win in their battle for a place in the top six.
Kenny-Dowall suffered a foot injury in the first half but the centre came back on after the break to inspire his side to victory.
Wigan also suffered a blow before the break when hooker Sam Powell went off injured but he did not return to the game and it showed as Rovers claimed the spoils.
Smith said of Kenny-Dowall: “Honestly, unreal. He epitomises what a captain should do and we’ve tipped our hat to him.
“He’s done some damage to the arch of his foot. Our physio mentioned to him just before half-time that he could quickly numb it and get him back out. He went, ‘Numb it for me so I can go back out’.
“It wasn’t just the courage that he showed and the toughness, it was the quality of what he did when he went back on to lead the way for us.
“He epitomised what we’re about. Hats off to him. I thought he was tremendous there tonight.”
Smith added on the win: “In terms of commitment to the cause, in terms of defending the try line and in terms of not letting Wigan score (in the second half) it was fantastic.
“It was patchy at times, I don’t think we played particularly well in some patches and in some aspects of our game. I don’t think our attack was free-flowing tonight. I thought Wigan shut us down a little bit in some areas which is all credit to them.”
Rovers scored tries through Albert Vete, Rowan Milnes, Ethan Ryan, Kane Linnett and Jez Litten, with Ben Crooks adding six points with the boot.
Liam Marshall claimed two tries for Wigan and Jake Bibby added the third but Harry Smith could only convert one on a poor night for Adrian Lam’s side.
Wigan remain fourth in the table on win percentage but the emphatic nature of the victory by Rovers was more evidence of their growing play-off potential as they stretched further ahead of city rivals Hull FC who occupy sixth.
Wigan coach Lam admitted his side had paid the price for allowing their hosts to make a fast start to the game.
“It was too hard to catch back after we gave them such a good start,” he said.
The injury to Powell was an early blow the Warriors failed to recover from.
Lam added: “It certainly messed up with our rotations. It’s always difficult when you lose your nine. He’s OK, we’ve got a seven-day turnaround.”
Lam felt the Warriors had given up the advantage by allowing Rovers to boss the game from early on with poor discipline playing its part.
He said: “We started OK but we gave away a six again on top of a four and then a high tackle and it’s game over. We are losing big moments in games and we are not giving ourselves a chance.”