After three weeks of intense media scrutiny, the Wests Tigers hit rock bottom Saturday night, falling to North Queensland in what was the second-worst losing margin in the history of the joint-venture club.
Despite rumours of differences of opinion between coach Mick Potter and captain Robbie Farah, both have remained publicly united throughout the ordeal and pledge they will look to band together and finish the season strongly under more imminent pressure from media this week following the 64-6 loss to the Cowboys on Saturday night.
“Stick with us. We will be trying, it’s not lack of effort. Tonight wasn’t our best night and we can bounce back from it, so it is a tough one for the fans to take and I’m sure they’re feeling it like we are,” Potter said as a concluding statement in their post-match press conference.
It was ugly from the get-go for Wests Tigers. After the Cowboys failed to register points inside the half hour mark against the Titans last week, they were far quicker out of the blocks this week, jumping to 32 points in as many minutes.
“It was by far our worst performance of the season... it seemed like everything was ending up in an error or a missed tackle and it was unacceptable and we all take responsibility for it, the players that are in there, they’re distraught and they’re very upset,” Potter said.
The rout stopped momentarily, giving the visitors time to catch their breath and assess the damage at 32-0, but it was unsalvageable – even for the most optimistic Tiger tragic.
Potter gave the impression that his half time instruction was more of a heart to heart with players than a spray.
“It was a talk really that I hadn’t gave before and I don’t think too many players had been in that sort of situation and it was probably more about just having a bit of pride and pulling themselves out of it in the second half,” he said.
“The scoreboard became irrelevant really as far as trying to win the game, I think that was just about dead and buried even at half time, so just getting a little bit of pride back and a little bit of character back into themselves and unfortunately everything they tried, it just turned sour. There was one try that we got under the posts but it was a pretty poor night from us all.”
Already without automatic selections including Pat Richards, Luke Brooks, Keith Galloway and Bodene Thompson, injury was piled on top of the most punishing kind of insult during the course of the 80 minutes.
Along with a Tim Simona knee complaint, four-try hero of just three weeks ago Keith Lulia was spared an up-close view of the carnage after being ruled out with concussion just past half time.
“There is a raft of people that are anything from season-ending injuries,” said a dejected Potter.
“At the moment, we’ve got Tim Simona in there (medical room). He tried to stop a try with his foot and I think that was a bad move so he’s got a knee problem.”
Continuing the theme of public praise throughout recent weeks, Potter lauded his main charge who amassed an incredible 58 tackles, 22 ahead of next-best in the game, from club captain Robbie Farah.
“Robbie never gives up. That is just a sign that the type of player he is and when you are just on the end of doing defence all day it is hard to show what you’ve got in attack, but he threw himself into the game and he gave a good account of himself but I think everyone was down today and the scoreboard reflects that.”