Huddersfield Giants head coach Rick Stone is determined his team should carry on in the Super 8s the way they finished the regular Super League season.
The Giants – along with Castleford Tigers, Leeds Rhinos, Hull FC, Salford Red Devils, Wakefield Trinity, St Helens and Wigan Warriors – await tomorrow’s fixture launch for the second phase of the season.
The Giants eventually finished eighth in the shake up after their narrow 14-10 defeat away at Hull, but some strong performances in the second half of the regular season have given Stone reason to believe his side can make an impact over the next seven rounds.
“Over the last 12 weeks of the regular season our resolve has grown and we are that bit tougher mentally,” said Stone.
“I would like to think that we are up for the challenge in the Super 8s against the better sides in the competition.
“If we can get the effort, execution in attack and defensive concentration all together and then make sure we produce that every week of the rest of the season then we may have a chance.
“A win at Hull could have given us a genuine crack at the top four, so our next couple of games are going to be really important and we will find out what we face when the draw comes out.
“But whoever we get we have to be up and ready to go.”
While the Giants struggled to pose Hull many problems at the KCOM Stadium, their defensive display was again impressive and Stone picked out newcomer Jordan Rankin as being a big help in that process.
“The defence has been better definitely,” said Stone.
“I will give Jordan Rankin a big pat on the back for that because his organisation at the back defensively has been really good.
“He is putting blokes in the right spot and he is getting blokes to move for him when he needs to.
“The fact we have conceded very few points over the last three games shows that we have come a decent way.
“However, if you don’t execute well enough in attack you are probably not going to beat the top sides.”
With the Challenge Cup semi-finals next weekend the Giants will be inactive for around two weeks and Stone was glad of the break.
“The guys are definitely due for a recharge to be honest and we have given the boys a couple days off for the start of this week and they can have a little break,” he explained.
“Any break at this time of the year is welcome and we have competed pretty hard this last couple of months of the regular season.
“We need to now get in shape for the Super 8s, we are disappointed that at Hull we let an opportunity slip, but we can’t do anything about that now and we need to set our focus on what we can do over the next seven weeks.
“And we might get a few blokes back from injury.
“A couple of key ones will be Jordan Turner and Michael Lawrence and they are really not far away.
“Whether they are going to be right for the first game of the Super 8s we are not quite sure just now, but we have some time and hopefully we will get them back soon.”
But Stone will be demanding an improvement going into the Super 8s after their defeat at Hull.
“It was okay at Hull and we were pretty courageous at times, but we did make it hard for ourselves with 10 errors in the second half,” said Stone.
“We had a 63 per cent completion rate overall and that made us have to work hard and we probably had to use a few interchanges a little bit earlier than we would have usually done as well – also we got a bit tired and showed in our execution in attack. I thought that we were probably as poor as we have been for a while in attack, but have to give credit to the opposition’s defence.”