Despite having seen the Dons suffer their first defeat in six League One games at high-flying Whitehaven on Sunday, head coach Richard Horne remains upbeat ahead of the visit of Newcastle this weekend.
“It was a game we could have won and they were hanging on at the end,” said Horne reflecting on the 25-20 defeat in his first game in charge.
“We could have probably played better in the first half. We looked a bit nervy on occasions and tried to force the pass at times and came up with some errors.
“We were more patient in the second half, especially in the last 20 minutes, and scored some really good tries. If we had played like that a bit earlier I think we would have beaten them.
“Our discipline also let us down at times but overall I was pleased with our performance and the fact that the things we’d worked on in training showed an improvement.”
The game saw the return of full-back Tom Carr and prop Feka Paleaaesina after more than a month on the sidelines.
“They both came through okay but you could tell they’d been out and I think they’ll both benefit from the game,” said Horne, who singled out the likes of assistant coach Pete Green and fellow back-rower Jason Muranka.
He was also impressed by young Hull FC centre Jack Logan, playing on dual-registration for the first time.
“He gave us an attacking edge on the right which they probably weren’t expecting,” said Horne.
Horne, who is not expected to make many unforced changes for Sunday’s crucial game, will be checking on skipper Kyle Kesik (tight hamstring) at tomorrow’s training session as well as winger Sam Doherty and centre Liam Welham – who both missed Sunday’s game.