Mirfield Stags boss Richard Silverwood hailed the response of his players in victory over Hanging Heaton, seven days after tasting defeat for the first time this year.
The Stags were bettered by Illingworth in the League Cup, but maintained their perfect record in Pennine Division One with a 38-14 win against their local rivals on Saturday.
Silverwood said: “We were delighted to get back to winning ways after last Saturday’s first defeat of the season.
“Everyone connected with the team felt it and we were bitterly disappointed that our unbeaten run came to an end.
“We under-performed massively last week and they knew about it straight away in training on Wednesday when we put them through it, while also working on some areas we needed to be better at.
“But, credit to the lads, they took what we practised and discussed into the first half and it was probably up there with the best halves of rugby I’ve seen from them.”
Silverwood was pleased with the performance of players throughout the squad, but reserved praise for two of his forwards.
“I challenged our forwards to have push on their carries, to have angles, and for our halves to get on the ball more, even on exit, and they did that very well.
“Whilst Ben Kendall will get the plaudits for his hat-trick and an all-round monster display, Wayne Jowett makes a massive difference to our team.
“He keeps our middle in shape, and brings a superb work-rate both with and without the ball, so it was great to have him back.”
But Silverwood will be without two of his squad’s most influential players for Saturday’s trip to face Sharlston.
“Unfortunately, we have now lost Brad Delaney for four matches for his sending-off in the Yorkshire Cup final and that is a massive loss to us.
“Brad was outstanding against Hanging Heaton, as he has been all year, and I’m gutted for him that he will miss the next four games.
“Phil Shotton is another we have lost this week through injury.
“I thought Phil brought some toughness and experience to our middle last week and, having only returned after a ban, I am hoping he is back after this week.”
The Stags make the trip to Sharlston this weekend after having already beaten their opponents at home.
But the Mirfield coach knows it’ll take another big effort to earn the two points.
“The lads know what’s required from the remaining five league games.
“This week will be very tough away at Sharlston. Games over there are never easy and they will be up for it after we beat them at home.
“We need to be ready for the challenge, we know that if we win this league we qualify for next year’s Challenge Cup, and that is our the goal we aim to achieve.”