featherstone rovers’ Ladbrokes Challenge Cup defeat at Catalans Dragons felt like a victory, according to coach Andy Hay.
The Kingstone Press Championship outfit led 30-24 late in the game, before eventually going out 37-34.
“The boys were pretty pumped after the game – they sang the victory song,” said Hay, who did not risk first-team regulars Gareth Moore, Andy Ellis, Paul Sykes, Paul Wood, Garreth Carvell, Reni Maitua, Jamie Cording and Andy Bostock because of injury concerns.
“We asked for commitment, effort and enthusiasm and we got it all. The players who took to the field were outstanding and we were unlucky not to come away with the result.”
Pushing a First Utility Super League team so close will give Rovers confidence as they attempt to seal a place in the Championship’s top-four, Hay reckons. He added: “They came at us and we went back at them. The young boys in the team showed no fear, got into them and rattled them for good periods. Some of the stuff we did was very good.”
Hay gave a debut to Aussie recruit Ryan Verlinden at prop, plus Sam Day and Luke Cooper off the bench. Jack Bussey (hamstring), Nathan Chappell (knee) and Cooper (ankle) all picked up “knocks” and will be assessed ahead of Sunday’s Summer Bash showdown with Leigh Centurions in Blackpool.