There’s nothing better than a fairytale finish.
It’s quite all over for the Wests Tigers, but coach Tim Sheens and captain Benji Marshall conceded Sunday’s 44-20 loss to the Sydney Roosters could be the final nail in their season’s coffin.
Touted as premiership favourites at the start of the year, Sheens’ side have flattered to deceive in 2012.
The joint-venture lost five of their first six games, then won seven in a row before embarking on a mixed run of form that culminated in a wretched performance against the Roosters – leaving them with a mountain to climb to make the top eight.
“Was there a mistake we didn’t make?” Sheens said.
“Everybody contributed as well. It wasn’t a lack of trying. Blokes were maybe trying too hard. We didn’t get the bounce. Everything went well for them.
“We didn’t defend any of our errors. Every penalty, every dropped ball, that was pretty disappointing.”
The Tigers must now put a big score on high-flying Melbourne at Leichhardt on Saturday and hope lowly Penrith spoil Petero Civoniceva’s farewell party at Suncorp Stadium 24 hours earlier or Canberra get flogged by a woefully out-of-form Warriors in Auckland on Sunday.
“At the moment we are not looking past where everybody is at,” Sheens said.
“Obviously there’s still another game to play, but right at the moment we are no chance of beating Melbourne unless we are 300 per cent better.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do this week.”
Marshall admitted the pressure of having to win the game may have got to his side on an error-strewn afternoon for the Tigers.
“It was execution. We dropped almost every ball I can think of out there,” he said.
“We had all the possession early, but after the first 10 minutes I don’t remember us having the ball in the first half.
“We just couldn’t find a way to stop them.”
While the Tigers lick their wounds and look back on a season of frustration, South Sydney bounced back from two successive losses with a 38-6 win over Parramatta.
The loss ensured the Eels finish the season with the wooden spoon for the first time in 40 years and saw Souths climb into third.
Greg Inglis was in brilliant form for the Rabbitohs, who will guarantee themselves a top-four spot with a win over Newcastle next Friday.
The Queensland superstar scored two tries, set up three and then said this Souths side were as good as the Melbourne teams he played in that reached three grand finals.
“We’re definitely up there, there’s no doubt about it,” Inglis said.
“I believe we’ve got the team to do it. But we’re not thinking that far ahead, we’ve got to go Newcastle next week and perform there.”
The Knights and Gold Coast both lost on Saturday to North Queensland and Penrith respectively to end any genuine hope of making the eight.
Cronulla can secure a home semi-final by beating Melbourne at AAMI Park on Monday, while a win for the Storm locking in a top-four finish.