BULLS head coach Mark Dunning insisted Saturday's 22-6 defeat to Halifax would be "character-building" for Joe Burton.

The 20-year-old has done well on the wing this season, but he endured a harrowing evening at Headingley playing in his natural position of full-back, at fault for three of Fax's four tries.

Dunning told the T&A: "It's character-building. Like with how young George Flanagan didn't have his best game at Barrow.

"It's how George reacts to that, and how Joe reacts to this game. He didn't surrender, or fold like a deck of cards.

"He stuck at it all day, and we've got enough to work on with these young players to know we can get somewhere."

Burton was only in the starting line-up due to an ankle injury that Jordan Lilley had aggravated in training, with his return date as yet unknown.

That meant a start for Elliot Kear in an unnatural half-back position.

Dunning said: "It's a big ask for someone to drop in there that isn't a regular.

"Joe Keyes got the man of the match award and he thoroughly deserved it.

"So we're playing against two quality half-backs and we've got an outside back filling in there.

"Elliot's done it for his country, which is why went with it, and we know he can do it, but then we've got to throw in a young bloke at full-back, so it does make it difficult."

Dunning felt there were far more positives to take from the Fax defeat than some others of late, like the humiliation at Newcastle three weeks ago.

He said: "We saw shoots, a bit like at Barrow, but this was a lot better again.

"We need to be better with the ball though. We're creating opportunities but we're not being clinical enough to take them. That will come with repetition and hard work and we'll get there."

Bulls are down to 18 fit first-teamers, and Dunning confirmed that Ben Evans would be missing for their next game against Workington, after he suffered a first-half concussion at Headingley.