Paul March has warned Cougars to start playing for the full 80 minutes after they were beaten by Doncaster in their final pre-season friendly.
March’s men were defeated 36-22 at the Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday to slip to their third loss from four pre-season outings.
The Cougars player-coach is demanding a significant step up when his side open their Championship campaign away to Batley next weekend.
March said: “We were 18-0 down after 15 minutes at Doncaster and that suggests our attitude wasn’t right.
“We weren’t at the races and, in fact, only played for about 30 minutes of the game.
“That’s not good enough and we need to be competing for the full 80 minutes of every match.”
Buoyed by the intricate probing of Bobbie Goulding Junior, Doncaster hit Cougars for six during the opening half.
They improved markedly after the break but March added: “We’ve got a lot more in the tank than what we showed during the course of the game.
“We showed we can trouble sides but defensively we weren’t there, particularly during that first half.
“Yes, these games are friendlies and maybe the lads don’t want to get injured, but that’s no excuse.
“In rugby league you have to be at it physically in every game you play but our contact and physicality was poor.
“You can’t switch off or you will get punished, as we saw in the first half against Doncaster on Sunday.”
March was at least boosted by the return of Scott Law and Daley Williams, while Scott Leatherbar-row again showed glimpses of his class.
The half-back has impressed since joining the club from Wigan during the winter and formed a promising partnership with Danny Jones.
March added: “I’ve been really pleased with Scott and I think he complements Jonesy well.
“Scott is young and exuberant but his quality is not in doubt, whereas Danny is a Wales international and has that experience and know-how.
“They have played together a few times now and I believe their partnership will continue to flourish once the season gets underway.”