Winning back-to-back games they would've lost in the past has the belief building in the Canberra Raiders' camp they are faders no more.
Raiders prop Sia Soliola said withstanding second-half pressure to beat the North Queensland Cowboys and Newcastle Knights built confidence their work during the pre-season was bearing fruit.
Injured Raiders duo Joe Tapine (thumb) and Aidan Sezer (oblique) trained on Sunday, with coach Ricky Stuart expecting to know more known on Monday about whether they'll be available to take on Parramatta at Canberra Stadium next week.
Defence has been the main focus of the Green Machine, but they also spent hours simulating how to close out games under fatigue.
Not only did the Raiders stand firm when North Queensland got it back to 18-12, but they were able to take their chances and run in two more tries to wrap up what ended as a comfortable win.
It shows the work Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has put into his players is paying off.
He said after the Cowboys win it was a game they would've lost in the past.
The win has given them a 3-1 win-loss record, their best start to an NRL season since 2005, and has them third on the ladder.
They were 0-4 last year, having let leads slip in three of those losses.
"It helps. It definitely helps with the confidence within the group because that's something that we've really worked on in the off-season," Soliola said.
"To see it pan out in the game situations, it's hard to get that during training, but to see that come off in the games that's really, really encouraging for the boys.
"We've got guys there that just really want to work and that's really encouraging for the club and the playing group."
But that doesn't mean the Raiders are the finished article. Far from it.
Soliola said they still had plenty to work on – as the 11 errors they made would suggest.
But that also shows how far they've come – being able to play below their best, but still win.
"Really happy with the result obviously, but a lot of things we can still improve on," Soliola said.
"It's a good learning curve that we can come out of a game like that and still get a result, and probably not play our best."
Soliola was looking forward to facing his former fellow front-rower Junior Paulo for the first time since the big bopper returned to Parramatta.
Paulo's had a strong start to his second stint with the Eels,Read More – Source