Featherstone Rovers star Ian Hardman admitted to mixed feelings after the high of becoming the first visiting team to win in Toronto being followed less than 24 hours later by the confirmation of missing out on the Qualifiers.
Hardman was one of the key performers in Rovers’ 30-12 victory in Canada, kicking seven goals, and playing his part in a 16-man team light on numbers, but not in spirit.
He said: “It was a brilliant feeling (to be the first away team to win in Toronto).
“The lads did really well. We were a little bit short on numbers, we only had 16 on the day, so to come up with a performance like we did to beat such a top outfit like Toronto was fantastic.
“We just had to manage the game as well as we could energy wise so we could give our forwards a bit of a rest because they had to do quite a bit of work on the day.”
Despite the against the odds victory, Featherstone still finished in fifth place and missed out on the Super League Qualifiers.
Instead they will play in the Championship Shield and already know they are in the final because of the points they have so far gained that are carried over to the next stage.
“It’s a strange feeling really to be going into the Shield,” said Hardman.
“Obviously at the start of the season the big focus was on getting into the top four and hopefully higher, but unfortunately with the way the Championship’s gone it’s been really tight in the top six and we’ve ended up missing out.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves for reasons why. It’s disappointing, but all we can do now is move on with what’s in front of us.
“We’ll be preparing each week to give it our best in the Championship Shield and hopefully try to finish with the Plate at the end of it.”
The experience of playing in Toronto for the first time was positive according to Hardman.
He added: “To go to Toronto and have a look around the city was completely new for us. On the game day the atmosphere in the ground was brilliant, there was a great crowd there and all the fans were really friendly before and after the game. Everyone enjoyed it.
“The Wolfpack fans were outstanding with us after the game, asking for autographs and pictures and complementing us on how we played.”