Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire says his battered team showed the pride he was after when he made major selection calls earlier this year in Friday's loss to Parramatta.
Maguire has at different times dropped stars like Benji Marshall and Luke Brooks and continually reshuffled his forwards as he attempts to spark the sort of resilience that will allow his side to compete with the top teams.
That resilience was evident in the 26-16 loss to the Eels at Bankwest Stadium.
With Michael Chee Kam going to hospital following a nasty head knock and fullback Adam Douehi also rubbed out by a head knock in the second half, the Tigers were briefly down to no fit players on the bench with Sam McIntyre also going for an HIA.
"As much as we don't like falling short in a game I was actually really proud of the players," Maguire said.
Match Highlights: Eels v Wests Tigers
"The way they fought they represented the Wests Tigers jersey in exactly the way we've been talking about.
"At one stage had no one on the bench. We were getting patched up … I was proud of the group, those sorts of games are ones the boys are learning how to play now, that's a top team so to be able to fight to the end and still keep pride the way we have and what we showed it what the jersey is all about."
However, he was still disappointed with the soft nature of some tries, such as Eels prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard running 45 metres to score.
Talau crosses late for Wests Tigers
"There was patches in that first half, we gave up a couple of tries that were disappointing," he said.
"Those sorts of games playing teams up [the] top of [the] ladder, we need to be better in those periods of games.
"But the effort, I keep going back to the effort we want to be a tough team and they showed the toughness of what we're building towards.
"We've got to keep putting effort in and things will start swinging to where we want them."
The toughness Maguire spoke of was epitomised by a running battle between teenage debutant Shaun Blore and Eels tyro Nathan Brown.
Faced with raw aggression, Blore stood his ground in a fiery head-to-head and came away with a points decision.
"It was good to see young Shaun, I don't think he's played a full game of footy for about 14 months now, to see him play the way he did it was welcome to first grade that's for sure," Maguire said.
"He played a lot of time too, I didn't expect him to play that much time but he hung strong and showed he can play at this level so I look forward to seeing him push to play again."