Cleary didn't see deflated Tigers performance coming
Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary had no answers for his side's lack of energy and desire in their 16-4 loss to Canterbury at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.
With their finals hopes on the line, the Tigers could only salvage a late try in the 12-point loss, which all but ends their hopes of a top-eight finish.
Cleary even took reference to the club's #OnTheBus hashtag throughout the season, declaring the "air went out of the tyres" with the shock defeat.
"We were flat tonight, we completed well, got through our sets, got through our plays but I thought that's what we did, just went through the motions," Cleary said.
"To Canterbury's credit that wasn't going to be good enough. They ran harder, tackled harder, which earned them the bounce of the ball from time-to-time.
"That's pretty much how the game went."
The side's biggest issue in 2018 has been their inability to beat teams below them on the Telstra Premiership ladder, despite defeating every team currently in the top-four this year.
After back-to-back wins over premiership contenders St George Illawarra and South Sydney in the past fortnight, Friday night's loss is another the Tigers are likely to rue at season's end.
"I'd be disappointed any night like that how we played ... lacked energy," Cleary said.
"Maybe those last two games took a bit out of us, I don't know. You need to turn up and play with a bit more spark than that."
The Warriors and Panthers remain four points clear from the Tigers but a victory to either side this weekend will create a three-win, six-point gap on the ladder.
"We haven't worried too much about that, you play well enough, you give yourself a chance to win games ... that will take care of itself," Cleary said.
"The air went out of the tyres a little bit tonight. Our main thoughts are sorting that out for next week up and going up there to Newcastle and putting on a much better show."