Liam Finn’s superior kicking was a major ingredient, the Trinity scrum-half slotting all three of his attempts while Hull KR missed each of their trio.
However, it was their desperation and cussedness in defence that perhaps was the most vital component of their victory – their first at Craven Park since 2012 – as they continually denied their struggling opponents who remain without a win this year.
“I think the effort of our guys speaks a lot about them as a group,” said Smith, who head to Warrington next on Friday.
“Rovers threw everything they had at us; they had a bucket of possession on our line – they may have broken the record for amount of time they spent there. It’s what we need to set as our benchmark this year, our defence. Jacob Miller was as good as anyone out there for us. He was superb for us, summed up by reading the short kick right near the final hooter.
“He put his body on the line with some incredible goal-line defence. It was a real team effort overall though.”
Mickael Simon and Stuart Howarth scored Wakefield’s tries, Finn converting both first-half efforts, and then, crucially, slotting a 54th minute penalty that eventually edged a scrappy, stop-start encounter.
Despite Hull KR being down to 12 men with Maurice Blair sin-binned for pulling back Simon off the ball, they managed to hit back with a move of rare clarity, Graeme Horne’s lovely short pass seeing Ken Sio surge through a gap from 10m out in the 61st minute.
Ryan Shaw, making his debut after a move from Bradford Bulls, took over kicking duties from Kieran Dixon who had missed two earlier kicks but he, too, was off target. Wakefield still had plenty to do. In the next set, Miller produced a brilliant tackle to deny Sio after Albert Kelly had set James Greenwood free down the middle.
Tom Johnstone then made a stunning last-ditch tackle on Shaw in the corner and when Chris Clarkson fumbled diving for Blair’s grubber, hard-working Trinity were almost home.
Hull KR had scored first via Dixon in the sixth minute but the visitors hit straight back through Simon when the hosts failed to deal with Finn’s restart. Former Hull FC hooker Howarth squeezed over in the 22nd minute and Wakefield were on their way.
Rovers replied through Adam Walker but they still trailed 12-8 at the break.
On Finn’s kicking, Smith added: “Liam’s a noted goal-kicker but the conditions made it tough for kickers.
“None of his shots were too tough under normal circumstances but any kick of any kind was difficult to deal with.
“Overall, I’m happy with how we stuck it out; it was always going to be a difficult game with the pitch as it was and the gusty wind – which felt gale force at times.”
Hull KR: Cockayne; Sio, Salter, Thornley, Dixon; Blair, Kelly; Walker, Lawler, Tilse, Clarkson, Horne, Allgood. Substitutes: Mulhern, Shaw, Greenwood, Green.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Jones-Bishop; Lyne, Arundel, B Tupou, Johnstone; Miller, Finn; Simon, Howarth, England, Molloy, A Tupou, Arona. Substitutes: Anderson, Sio, Annakin, Walton.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).