Richard Agar couldn’t fault his players efforts after their defeat to Wigan Warriors but conceded that the difference in quality shone through.
On a sodden day in Lancashire the Wildcats fielded a number of faces for the first time this season including Motu Tony, Andy Ellis, Matty Wildie and Liam Kay as Agar refreshed his squad in what was the second game in four days.
They came up against a clinical Wigan side packed with internationals and although coming out on the wrong end of a heavy scoreline, the Wildcats were not overrun and stood up to be counted against one of the competitions top sides.
“The first half in particular our application was really good,” Agar commented after the match.
“We completed 100% of our sets and we kicked pretty well.
“I thought defensively in the middle of the park we really stood up.
“In the first twenty minutes of the second half some back-to-back sets hurt us. Sometimes we deserved them and sometimes we didn’t but against a side like Wigan the reality of today were that there was a little bit of a miss-match in quality of personnel.
“But for effort and commitment I thought our boys tried hard over the eighty minutes and some of the young guys would have got a tremendous experience and plenty of confidence out of some of the things they’ve done in the game today.
“We’re lacking a bit of strike at the moment and we certainly didn’t have some of our better strike players in today.
“But you always give yourselves a chance if your completion is high, you kick-chase well and you defend okay.
“In the first half I thought for the bulk we did that. We said the same again for the second half and felt that if we could get some ball down their end we could come away with something.
“Unfortunately that didn’t happen for us but I didn’t think it dampened our commitment or spirit throughout the game at all. It would have been nice to come away with that try at the end but it wasn’t to be.”
Agar was heartened by his sides showing despite the result and said he and his coaching team will have some selection decisions to make ahead of the Carnegie Challenge Cup Fourth Round tie with Leeds Rhinos on Friday.
“I think there are enough positives to come out of our performance. If we’d had the same desire to defend in the last two games we might have come up with some better results.
“Against a side like Wigan there was a gulf in quality today.
“It’s a very quick turnaround for us being back on Friday. Some guys that have missed today with bumps and bruises who there are some question marks over, but we do expect to have some of the eight blokes who we had missing today back for Friday.
“One of the things we looked at before the game was that we wanted some of the guys to stick their hand up.
“We’ve had a fairly low turnover of players over the first seven or eight rounds. Our last couple of performances have been below what we would expect and we thought today was a good opportunity for some of our guys who haven’t had as much football as they need, to put their hand up and try to force their way into contention.
“I really thought they did that. We’ll have a selection to make this week.”
It was another game against a top side where the Wildcats raised their performance to compete with the opposition, and Agar has called on his side to match those levels when they face the teams around them.
“We have played well and we have played well for really long periods (this season). In the games where we have played well we haven’t always got the result.
“At the time we felt the wins were coming. Our last two performances have been way below what those standards have been.
“When we’re looking around at teams in the bottom six, they’re the games people earmark as must-win games, and that hasn’t happened for us.
“Our performances against those teams hasn’t been what it needs to be. Against the top sides we have been better.
“It’s a new group and we’re still learning about each other. Having people under pressure for selection from today will help us going forward.”
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