Lazarus had nothing on this – and that’s not Glenn. The Wests Tigers were dead in the ground on 68 minutes, trailing 18-0 and barely having looked like scoring.
Then, they scored three tries in five minutes, kicked a field goal and were in front. But this is the Tigers, so they lost anyway, 20-19.
Canberra had been as good as they needed to be and not an ounce more for all that time, scoring three tries from kicks and tackling their hearts out, while offering the square root of nothing in attack.
Jamal Fogarty created it all, putting two off the post protector for himself and setting up another for Jordan Rapana. He kicked the winning penalty, too, after missing a field goal but being collected by Isaiah Papali’i on the charge down.
The turning point was a sin bin for Tom Starling, the fall guy of a deliberate policy of lying in the ruck that succeed for over an hour. After that, it was the Canberra Faders on steroids.
They didn’t touch the ball for eight of the ten minutes that they were down to 12, by which point Luke Brooks had put the Tigers 19-18 ahead.
But life is never that simple for the Tigers. They always find a way – unfortunately, it’s a way to lose.
Neither coach left happy. Tim Sheens complained about what appeared to be a push on Brooks in the lead up to Fogarty’s second try.
“Brooks getting pushed was a poor call,” said the coach. “He was running towards the ball and, in fact, it bounced off the post pad and came towards him, but he got pushed over.
“You can’t push someone over. I’m not happy about that one and it resulted in a try. There’s a number of things that I thought were poor.”
Ricky Stuart delved into referee Gerard Sutton’s set restarts, which ended 8-0 against the Raiders.
“When you get eight ruck infringements to zero, that opposition should have won the game,” he said. “The opposition, they can’t be that clean at the ruck.
“I don’t mind if we’re infringing at the ruck, we can cop our medicine, but you can’t tell me that they are a zero, that they are that clean tonight.”
Beyond that, though, he was happy.
“What these boys were up against was unbelievable,” said the coach. “The way that they stayed composed – they went bang, bang, bang and they stayed composed. I was so proud of them.”
One swallow did not make a summer as far as the Wests Tigers’ attack is concerned. For much of this, it was back to the bad old Tigers of earlier in the year, taking execution tips from Amnesty International.
There was the time Luke Brooks, on the last, threw one behind everyone and off the field. The time when, with six good tackles on the Raiders’ line, they conspired to get put into touch on play one.
Even when they were better, it wasn’t great. Jahream Bula made a break and got Fonua Pole charging to the line, but he ignored Isaiah Papali’i, got run down and lost the ball.
They made an extra man at one point and found winger Junior Tupou, but the pass was too high, he juggled and the scramble came across.
It was as if the points fest against the Cowboys had never happened. While the Raiders’ defence was decent, it really didn’t have to be.
Only when they lost a man to the sin bin did the Tigers finally breach the line.
Sheens might ask why that didn’t happen earlier, given the Raiders conceded set restarts at will at times, but it took until ten to go for referee Sutton to take things further.
The Raiders conceded them in bunches, too: in the first good ball set there were two, then another two in a minute just after half time, then the two that eventually saw Starling marched.
When it did happen, however, the dam broke. The Tigers got their breakthrough through Bula and then got two more in rapid time.
By the end, they had almost 500m more than the Raiders, plus seven line breaks to one, plus 47 sets to 36, plus 42 red zone tackles to 25 and you get the point.
Yes, the comeback was spectacular – but if they had done anything beforehand, they wouldn’t have needed it.
This was almost certainly the best that Fogarty has ever played in first grade. The halfback was by far the game’s best player, although that might not mean a great deal, given how poor the game was in general.
His contributions were decisive: three superb attacking kicks, three tries, two of them for himself, plus the penalty goal that won the game.
With the boot he was exceptional, kicking over 600m to constantly turn the Tigers around and defensively, he was as solid as any – no mean feat when faced up with Isaiah Papali’i running at him.
There was a stunning in-goal escape, too, and even a few probing runs from a player usually more inclined to kick and control rather than take on the line.
As much as the Tigers were poor in attack, the Raiders weren’t much better – except Fogarty. His class was the difference between the sides and gave his defence something to work with.
It was fortunate that he did turn up, because the rest of the Raiders managed to go 70 minutes without a line break, while accumulating next to no concerted pressure on the Tigers line.
Eventually that bit them on the backside and they got what they deserved. Only Fogarty could emerge with credit from a poor Canberra showing.