CONFIDENT Giants coach Jon Sharp believes last night's big Super League clash at Leeds Rhinos was the perfect dress rehearsal for next Sunday's massive Challenge Cup semi-final against St Helens.
The result may not have gone the way of Sharp's understrength side - they were beaten 38-6 - but the McAlpine chief felt everything else about this Headingley encounter will have helped in the preparation for the Saints Cup showdown at Warrington.
"We spoke before last night's match about it being the perfect dress rehearsal for next week's semi," revealed Sharp.
"It was a game played in front of a big crowd, against one of the form teams in the competition and in front of the television cameras.
"And it's this sort of intense battle and cracking atmosphere which we will face against Saints at Warrington next Sunday.
"For many of my players, it's something they will not have experienced very regularly.
"But, overall, the boys handled it well last night, and I see no reason why they can't handle it just as well in eight days' time.
"Furthermore, it's always in dress rehearsals that you have to try and iron out any mistakes so they're not repeated on the big day itself.
"That's the process we're now going through."
Sharp was running injury checks on all his squad over the weekend, but admitted the initial signs looked encouraging.
Those included reports on the six first-team players who sat out last night's game in a bid to shake off injury niggles.
But in their absence, the replacements all acquitted themselves well against the Super League leaders, leaving Sharp feeling a happy man.
"I'm proud once again of the effort and endeavour of all my players," he added.
"I felt the final scoreline of 38-6 was very harsh on my boys.
"It was a genuine competition for 60 minutes, and it was a shame we blew out in the final quarter. I believe we've had the most punishing schedule over Easter, and that was a factor."