Canberra Raiders captain Jarrod Croker says the biggest issue facing the side after their two pre-season trials is lack of steel and execution in their ruck defence.
Twice in as many games the Raiders have given up 20 points in the first half, with Canberra staring down the barrel of a 22-6 deficit at half-time against Canterbury last weekend in Bega.
For the second successive week Canberra was able to grab a morale-boosting victory, running down the Bulldogs in the second half with a stiff breeze at their backs.
Croker said the side could not rely on those types of assists when they tackle to the Gold Coast Titans in round one.
"A lot of positives to take out of it but leaking 20 points in the first half of two games is pretty disappointing so we've got a lot to work on still," Croker said.
"In that first half I think we were too loose around the middle. We spoke at half-time about tightening up around the ruck and making them go around us a little.
"We let them get a bit of a roll-on and we did work out in that second half it was a lot easier to catch the ball on the full on halfway and then charge into rather than coming out of your half into the stiff breeze.
"But I think we need to work a lot around the ruck defensively."
Regardless of the defensive issues, coach Ricky Stuart got to see how some of his new look pieces are likely to line up early in the Telstra Premiership.
Croker saw up close in a match situation the performance of former fullback come five-eighth Jack Wighton, with the Canberra skipper giving him a solid pass park.
"I was very happy with him, we were all probably a bit guilty of being a bit leg-heavy in the first half," Croker said.
"We were running into a stiff breeze and it was quite warm and we were on the back foot a fair bit, so we gave him a fair bit of ball.
"But we saw his skill in the second half, he set up a couple of nice tries, he kicked well and he got a few good shots on in defence which we know he's capable of."
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad looks to have all but sewn up the No.1 jersey for round one, with the new looking safe under the high ball and willing to put in work in his own half against the Bulldogs.
"I was really impressed with him," Croker said of the former New Zealand Warrior.
"We've spoken about how day one when he got here he jumped into an opposed session and went really well.
"He talked well [on the weekend] and he was pretty gassed as well, he played the full 80 and had a lot of carries a lot of sets in the first half he was doing two per set.
"So I'm sure that will be great for his match fitness.
"Skill-wise and shape-wise we've got a bit of work to do with him but I've seen no reason why he can't play NRL footy for us."
With the side's trials completed for 2019, Croker said the competition for spots in the outside backs was set to be fierce with the likes of Jordan Rapana, Joey Leilua and Michael Oldfield on the sidelines.
"There's some pretty talented blokes out there," he said.
"Having Bailey [Simonsson] outside talking to me [against Canterbury], I didn't even realise it wasn't Nick [Cotric], who was off.
"[Simonsson] just fitted in just like Nick, so he went well, Tony [Satini] went well and Seb Kris was good and I was really impressed with some of your forwards as well."