Rochdale coach Alan Kilshaw praised his young squad after they recorded only their second win of the season on Sunday.
Declan Kay’s late try earned the Hornets a deserved 32-27 win at Dewsbury, avenging the heavy loss they suffered at the hands of the Rams earlier in the season.
They did so without several senior players, including the likes of Dave Allen, Lewis Palfrey and Luke Adamson.
Kilshaw said: “We had nine lads under 21 today and an average age of 23, if you take Gaz Middlehurst out of that the average age is probably 20, 21!
“I would have been proud even if we got beat. It was an important win.
“We’ve struggled away since last year and we spoke about rewarding the fans. We’re not the best followed team but guys came to Whitehaven and we were pretty off that day, so to repay them with today, hopefully all is forgiven.
“I was disappointed with some of the last tackle plays, we gave away four or five seven-play sets, and even towards the end when Morgan Smith went early with the 40/20 attempt.
“That’s probably the youth, and they’ve got to understand that and how to manage a game. Those are the things you learn by playing, you don’t learn that on the training field or in drills.
“Maybe we’re not as bad as people think.”
Warrington youngsters Smith and Pat Moran turned out, as well as hooker Jonah Cunningham, who joined on loan from Leigh last week.
Kilshaw added: “We couldn’t trainin Tuesday night, we did weights and went for a meal, all the lads are saying we need to do that again next week!
“(Jonah) only trained Thursday and then the team run on Saturday, so for him to put in that performance, we couldn’t ask for any more.
“I think he popped his shoulder and went back on so he’s tough, and he’s a great kid.”
Kilshaw has also drafted in players from the amateur game in recent months, including former Lancashire player Setareki Talatoka, Deon Cross and half-back Tyler Whittaker from Crosfields.
He said: “They’ve come in and took their chance. The more they play, the more they get used to what’s expected, the game speed and staying in the grind, the better they’re going to become.
“It’s going to take time, we knew it would take time.
“We’ve lost a lot of players, and I’m not saying we’re going to go on a massive run now and finish in the top eight, but we needed that win and I think it’ll really lift the place.”