SWINDON Storm head coach Rich van Sloten says his side can take immense pride from their efforts all season after their campaign came to an end with a 32-8 defeat to Bristol Apache in the play-offs at the weekend.

Storm qualified for the post-season showdown after racking up an impressive seven wins from their 10 fixtures in the regular season, that despite losing their two opening matches.

Van Sloten lauded his troops for putting together a dramatic turnaround after a disappointing 2016 season and felt there was certainly no disgrace in defeat to Bristol.

“The play-offs were never the ultimate goal for us this year. The ultimate goal was to rebuild the team and get us back to being competitive and the guys have done exactly that,” said van Sloten.

“It’s been great and I can’t fault the effort that everyone has put in this year.

“I said to the guys after the game: ‘The team that’s had the biggest mountain to climb and the most challenges to face but shown the most heart is us’.

“Everyone wrote us off but we quietly went about our business. To a man, there were no egos, the senior guys and the rookies all worked together as a team.

“From where we were last season to where we are now is amazing and it’s a testament to the players, the staff and everyone at Swindon Storm.

“I’m so proud of everyone and the work they have put in and I’m so proud to be a part of it.”

Vic Ofoe got Storm’s sole touchdown against Bristol but van Sloten took only positives from the performance and felt building blocks were in place for more success to come in the future.

“It’s disappointing to lose any game but the guys gave everything they had and I couldn’t have asked for any more. They left everything out there on the pitch,” said van Sloten.

“We had a few injuries to contend with and Bristol took a much bigger squad than us but we gave absolutely everything we had.

“We are already thinking about next year. If we retain the squad we have now and recruit as well as we did for this year, we are going to be in a really good position.”