ON the face of it, a 77-29 defeat to Leicester Lions at Peel Croft does not make pleasant reading for Burton RFC.
But that stark scoreline does not paint a true picture of what, for the first 40 minutes, was a competitive affair.
Burton gave as good as they got in the first half against their opponents from National League Two – one step above the home side – and trailed 28-15.
It was at that point Burton chose to chop and change, ultimately giving 30 players a run out, while the Lions stuck with their first-choice line-up.
A flurry of late tries as the Lions' power finally took its toll gave the scoreline an imbalanced look.
But Burton first-team manager Steve Briggs was far from disheartened as his side prepare for a new season in National League Three Midlands following promotion last season.
"We wanted to give as many players as possible a chance and while the scoreline does not look good, we were more than happy with the way things went.
"They are a top-six side from the division above us and we are making a big step up this season.
"We matched them in the set-piece scrum and the players looked fit.
"They have trained harder over the summer than ever before and are fitter than I have seen before.
"Despite the scoreline, the players and coaching staff were upbeat after the game.
"I spoke to the Lions coaching staff and they were full of praise for the way we play the game.
"The majority of our players are home-grown. That's the road we have chose to go down and we think we are on the right track."
Kelvin Browne and Danny Smith made their comebacks after season-long absences with injury and both looked very sharp.
Colt Alex Nesbitt impressed at centre on his senior debut and certainly did not look out of his depth, running in a nice try.
Second row Dave Henry also made a welcome return to the Burton pack.
There was a try for young scrum half Eddie Nicholls, rounding off a fine back-row move.
Front row signing Martyn Bentley, from Rugeley, showed potential, alongside another new face, Jack Neale, from Burntwood.
This weekend, Burton will continue their pre-season preparations at the Matlock 10s.
The following weekend they host Handsworth at Peel Croft in a Staffordshire County Cup game (3pm).