Tim Sheens sat in his coach’s box with just over a minute to go before half time in the Wests Tigers clash with Parramatta yesterday. Everything was going to plan.
His side was 18-0 up, Parramatta was doing its best to either drop, force or just generally throw the ball away at regular intervals, and it seemed they were on track for a comfortable day at the office.
His decision-making process during those 90 or so seconds before the break says plenty about where the joint venture is at.
Sheens sent out the order for a field goal to be snapped, and Benji Marshall obliged without any fuss.
Tigers fans would’ve been more than satisfied leading 19-0 at half time, but Sheens seemed to have a sense of impending doom.
The field goal seemed unnecessary as the Tigers continued their march in the second half.
They led 31-0 before commentator Phil Gould set in motion a chain of events that was barely believable.
“It will be interesting to see where this last 14 minutes goes,” Gould said.
“Whether or not it just fizzes out or the Tigers have got a ruthless streak in them.”
Ruthless is something you associate with Melbourne or Brisbane. This was the Tigers’ chance, albeit against a very poor Parramatta side, to show a win-at-all costs, extra-mile, never-give-an-inch attitude existed in their squad.
If the score stayed the same it would’ve meant two consecutive games where the opposition hadn’t scored a penalty, let alone crossed the try line.
Instead, as skipper Robbie Farah conceded after the game, they switched off.
67th minute: Matt Ryan try (31-6)
71st minute: Willie Tonga try (31-12)
76th minute: Ken Sio try (31-18)
78th minute: Jarryd Hayne try (31-24)
Surely that was the end of it. Joke over, time to get serious again and show some fight.
When Benji Marshall walked back to the half-way line with the ball and placed it on the tee the clock read 78:59.
36 seconds later Cheyse Blair crashed over again.
The Tigers might have lost by 30 if the match went for another five minutes.
Sheens walked into the press conference room and it took him less than a minute to drop the “F-bomb”, as the kids say. It wasn’t intentional, but it was a fair indicator of his opinion of the last 15 minutes of the match.
“Rubbish,” was his more PC assessment.
The veteran coach is entitled to feel more than a little frustrated, because this seems to be his recurring nightmare.
His players did the same thing in round five against South Sydney.
They let in two tries in the last four minutes before a Greg Inglis field goal in golden point extra time consigned them to a 17-16 loss.
Sheens said he hoped that loss served as a warning, the ultimate lesson in throwing away two valuable competition points.