Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor says he was impressed by an improved defensive resolve in his side's 33-8 loss to the Roosters on Friday night, even as he expressed bitter disappointment in dropped balls and missed opportunities that eventually led to a heavy scoreline against his side.
In the end, 13 errors for the match, a 55 per cent completion rate in the first half and 63 per cent overall – plus two kick-offs that went out on the full – all took a toll on the final margin.
But Taylor, whose charges are officially out of the finals race and in outright last place with a battle on their hands to avoid the wooden spoon, said the disappointing part is that his side beat themselves, rather than getting beaten by the opposition.
"I'm really happy with what we did defensively for the whole 80 minutes. In the second half they got three tries and they had an enormous amount of possession in our half," he said.
"We turned them away numerous times."
He added the defensive effort was more impressive given the possible season-ending injury to back-rower Chris Lawrence in just the third minute of the game.
Lawrence appeared to have aggravated an old ankle ligament injury according to Taylor, which with six games to go would place the rest of his season in doubt.
"I'm really disappointed; we've been harder on ourselves than we have done probably all year after that one because we were good enough to win that game and I think we should have won it," Taylor said after the 33-4 loss.
"The scoreboard in the end is a long way from that but that game was four tries to two for a long long time and we just kept dropping the ball.
"We've made some adjustments to how we're playing in attack and the mistakes weren't good enough. We beat ourselves tonight, I don't feel that the Roosters beat us and that's a great place for us to be in when you consider where we've been in a lot of games this year."
He described Lawrence's injury as "fairly bad".
"The physio said there's an old injury in his ankle, a ligament that he injured a few years ago and it's a similar area. He'll obviously need a scan," he said.
The early loss of Lawrence meant young back-rower Kyle Lovett had to again play big minutes after expecting to be used more sparingly in the late stages of a big season with the 22-year-old eventually making a match-high 39 tackles.
"Kyle Lovett in his debut season, he's almost played 80 minutes every week. It's a long long season for a guy who'd never played NRL before this season started... we finally gave him a chance to come off the bench tonight so he could play a few less minutes, Chris Lawrence goes down in five minutes and he has to play 75 or whatever. That made it hard for us but the boys kept fighting," Taylor said.
Taylor said it was the most disappointed he'd been after any game in 2015 given the effort they put in and the errors they made.
"There's been a lot of games that we weren't good enough so you're disappointed and you're worried when you're not good enough but tonight we showed we were.
"We talked a lot about our defence this year but we're seeing some really good signs in the last couple of games, especially the way we're tackling, it's improved out of sight. The guys are getting it and we're getting better and it's great."
Stand-in skipper Aaron Woods agreed the side should have been able to get the win against the Roosters.
"We had a few opportunities. We spoke at half-time [about] being smart with it and straight after half time we dropped the ball, gave the Roosters easy field position," he said.
"I think we beat ourselves, I don't think the Roosters really gave it to us."