Proud boss Brian McDermott refused to be disappointed after his Leeds Rhinos side were beaten 19-18 by a last-gasp drop goal away at Warrington Wolves.
Missing seven first-team regulars and losing two more to injury in the first half, Rhinos outscored hosts Warrington by four tries to three, but were sunk by Lee Briers’ drop goal with 53 seconds left.
“It was a huge effort and I am very proud to be a Rhino today,” McDermott said afterwards.
“Everybody who’s involved with Leeds Rhinos should be proud that we coach or watch a group of young men who do special things.
“Sometimes you do special things even though you lose the game.”
McDermott, who attributed no blame to goal kicker Zak Hardaker, said his young players will only benefit from experiences like last night.
“Sometimes when you lose games it puts you in so much good stead,” he said. “Both the seniors and juniors are learning very harsh and quick lessons – but some great lessons along the way for their development further down the track.
“A lot of people had a lot of game time and tried their heart out. There’s not one bloke I’d single out and not one who didn’t put the effort in.”
Rhinos’ injury problems worsened with the loss of Mitch Achurch (medial knee ligaments) and Brad Singleton (torn hamstring) in the first half.
They are both expected to be sidelined for at least a month. Ian Kirke suffered a bang to a shoulder.