Bradford Bulls caretaker coach Leigh Beattie was heartened by the effort showed by his young side in a 54-24 loss at Hull KR.
Although they conceded nine tries to the newly-relegated Rovers, the West Yorkshire visitors – with an average age of just 21 – showed plenty of spirit and endeavour.
The Championship opener was their first competitive match since being thrown together less than three weeks ago, the former club having been placed into liquidation last month.
Incoming coach Geoff Toovey sat alongside Beattie in the stands as he awaits his visa and saw first-hand the scale of work that needs to be done especially given Bradford’s penalty for their financial mess was starting the campaign on minus 12 points.
“It was very tough out there,” conceded Beattie. “They are a good side Hull KR, fast around the ruck and Shaun Lunt is a great player at hooker.
“They beat us around the ruck in the first half and we tried fixing that up.
“It was very positive for us, though, and there’s loads to build on.”
Bradford gave debuts to four players on loan from Leeds Rhinos – Jordan Lilley plus teenagers Sam Hallas, Joshua Jordan-Roberts and Mikolaj Oledzki who all showed up well.
Beattie added: “We are a young side but it is what it is and we showed passion there.
“The kids from Leeds stepped in and were outstanding and you can’t fault the effort.
“We’re a little bit off with pre-season and they (Rovers) looked slicker than us.
“But with that effort and a bit more work on the (training) field I don’t think we’ll be far off.”
He said his side got a “bit giddy” after taking an early 6-0 lead while there was no update on when Australian Toovey would officially be able to take charge.
They host Rochdale Hornets on Sunday who vanquished Dewsbury Rams 46-0 yesterday but Beattie is undaunted.
“Good, it’s another challenge for us so bring it on,” he said, when told of that shock scoreline, Dewsbury thrashed despite having including dual-registered Wakefield Trinity players Max Jowitt and David Fifita in their ranks.
“I’ve said all along, we’ll just keep ticking these games off one by one.
“We’ll get in tomorrow and start going through things and then build towards that.
“I know the management are looking at bringing some more in but I’m not sure where that’s at,” he added.