North Wales Crusaders head coach Anthony Murray says he can have no complaints about what he has seen from his side during pre-season.
The Wrexham club ended pre-season with a 36-0 defeat at Championship club Whitehaven last weekend, but they only had 16 players available and lost others during the match.
Despite having to reshuffle his side around, Murray had a good response as his troupes dug deep in testing conditions.
“It’s always tough going up to Whitehaven and they went into the game on the back of a decent win against Workington,” he said.
“We were bodies down, but I’m not going to take anything away from the group of players who played.
“James Tilley came up in his car because he had to get back to do a shift at work.
“They had a really good dig, but we were beaten by a bigger Whitehaven team on the day.
“In the second-half, it was 20-0 for large periods. It was only in the final ten minutes that we ran out of steam, but we went down to 14 men so we had no rotation at all coming off the bench.
“Full credit to our guys for sticking in there, but full credit to Whitehaven and Gary Charlton because they had a really simple, direct approach to the game.”
Murray purposely chose three testing pre-season fixtures – and believes his players will see the benefits.
“I wanted to have three really tough warm-up games to see what we’re about,” he said.
“We’ve got some really good characters in there with a lot of enthusiasm.
“We’ve got a good work ethic approach and that’s what I’ve been looking for.
“I said before we kicked off against Barrow that these friendlies aren’t necessarily about the results. They’re about what we’re doing and how we’re putting ourselves across.
“I think we’ve put ourselves across really well so I’ve got no complaints at all.”