Brisbane Broncos coach Anthony Seibold will leave Cairns a satisfied man after his key position players showed signs of form against the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday night.
The Broncos lost 18-16 in a thriller, but Seibold was more interested in talking about his new halves combination than the scoreboard.
"The ball control was outstanding," he said after a rain-soaked match at Barlow Park.
"The combination between Anthony Milford and Brodie Croft looked really sharp tonight.
"They played half a game and 50-60 minutes respectively."
When both sides had their strongest outfits on the park early in the match, it was the Broncos who fired the most shots, leading 10-4 at the break after a pair of tries from Jesse Arthars.
"I think we completed 13 consecutive sets and so did the Cowboys, so there was a fair bit of a high quality football in the first half," Seibold said.
Match Highlights: Cowboys v Broncos
"Both sides made plenty of changes at half time or just after half time and a lot of the younger guys finished the game so there's some valuable lessons for our younger group but I was really happy with how physical we were early.
"Payne Haas was immense early, I think we played him 25-30 minutes straight, and then put him in the shower, but he was dominant early on."
Seibold said his side came through the trial largely unscathed.
"Jesse Arthars got a bang to the knee so we brought him off a little earlier but if it was a proper game he would have stayed on."
The battle for the No. 1 jersey between Jake Bird and Jamayne Isaako didn't reach great heights, although Bird could be in the box seat based on the fact he started the game and was solid in attack and defence.
Isaako also looked good in the minutes he played.
"I thought Birdy was really strong," Seibold said.
"I'll have a good look on the video. I'm not going to show my cards here now.
"They're both quality players so we'll have a look at the vision and they'll both get some time against the Titans [in next week's trial]."