Huddersfield Giants caretaker coach Chris Thorman was delighted but also disappointed as his patched-together side took a Super League point with a 22-22 draw against reigning champions Leeds Rhinos.
The 37-year-old stepped up after former Newcastle Knights coach Rick Stone was sacked as Giants head coach on Tuesday and his first selection, lacking seven senior players and including two teenage debutants in Sam Hewitt and Louis Senior, produced a battling display.
“We got a good response and at times we looked assured and confident,” said Thorman.
“But in the end we didn’t win and that is disappointing.
“We started well and kept up that challenge to the opposition – and we had the opportunities to win the game.
“But considering where we had come from into the game then I really can’t be too critical.”
Thorman and the Giants face a big battle on Monday when they travel to Catalans Dragons, and their numbers could be further depleted as Ireland international second rower Ollie Roberts has suffered a recurrence of the foot injury that kept him out of the heavy defeat at Wigan Warriors.
“Ollie needed patching up during the game, but he went out there and did a job for me,” said Thorman.
“Catalans are a tough side and they have good players all the way through their squad, and it is a game between two sides desperate for a win.
“However, I think we showed plenty of commitment against Leeds and we showed that we can play.
“We had a lot of people missing and we gave a really good Leeds side a run for their money.
“We were really close to them all the way through and it shows how far we have come in such a short space in time when I am feeling disappointed that we didn’t win.”
Rhinos caoch Brian McDermott was equally impressed by the resolve shown by the Giants.
“Hudderfsield had reason to be good and they really were switched on,” said McDermott, himself a former Giants assistant coach.
“It was a real contest and we didn’t react particularly well to our early adversity.
“The Giants were determined all the way and all credit to them, and we played some good stuff in there, but given the result, it clearly wasn’t enough.”