It’s tough to see the team you support lose. It’s even tougher when the loss comes at the hands of your arch rivals.
As he should, Michael Maguire believes where there’s life there’s hope for his Wests Tigers.
But only a miracle can save the Tigers from extending the NRL’s longest finals drought to a decade, even after they pulled off one of the Houdini acts of the season.
A late try to Joey Leilua, converted from near the sideline by skipper Moses Mbye, and a Luke Brooks field goal with two minutes left on the clock earned the Tigers a heart-stopping, season-saving 29-28 win over competition cellar dwellers Canterbury.
It was far from convincing but the victory kept the Tigers’ finals hopes flickering. Just.
Without a finals appearance since 2011, having finished ninth the past two years, the Tigers could scarcely have a tougher run home.
The joint venture outfit play six of the current top-eight teams in their last six games, starting with back-to-back premiers the Sydney Roosters on Saturday at Leichhardt Oval.
And given they still languish four points adrift of the top eight, the Tigers most likely must win all six to secure a finals berth.
“But the only thing that matters now for us is we know where we sit and every game now is an important game that we need to make sure that we get success, we’ve got to get the win,” Maguire said.
“We’ll focus on this week and make sure we get that right and we’ll go from there.
“It will be up to us.”
After the Roosters, the NRL’s perennial nearly men play Penrith, Manly, South Sydney, Melbourne and Parramatta.
It’s hard to mount a case for wins against such formidable opponents when the Tigers barely beat the bottom-placed Bulldogs, even with a 16-point first-half start.
But Maguire still believes and all he cares about is how they found a way to overcome the dogged Dogs.
“I just feel that the group is better than where we are,” he said.
“Just little lapses in concentration put us under pressure. It’s happened in a number of games now.
“But if we fix those up in our game, the way we can play is a hell of a lot better than what we showed there.
“The boys definitely know how to compete.”