A loss to the Canterbury Bulldogs last night effectively rules out any chance the Wests Tigers have of making the finals, with the Tigers outfit going down 30-10 at ANZ Stadium last night.
On a wet night in Sydney, the Dogs raced out to a 24-0 lead and looked to be in cruise control, before they took their foot off the accelerator in the second half.
It was all Canterbury early on as they produced their attacking flair on the left, the right and through the middle, as the Tigers just had no way to respond or to stop it.
Although they did end up fighting back well to reduce the deficit and score some points of their own, it was a spirited yet disappointing performance.
The loss was compounded by two injuries for the Tigers with Keith Galloway injuring his shoulder pre-game and halfback Luke Brooks limping off after scoring a try.
With the loss set to put further pressure on embattled Tigers coach Mick Potter, Brooks refused to go into specifics about the coaching future of Potter.
“I don’t really want to get into coaching talk. I leave that up to the board. Either way, I’m looking forward to next year and finishing off these next two games in this season,” he said.
Despite that, though, Brooks did praise Potter for showing faith in him and his ability this season.
“I think it’s been like that the past couple of years with injuries. I guess that’s up to the board. They’ve just got to decide what they’re doing. I just leave that to the board,” he said.
“He’s been good for me, personally. He gives me confidence to play what I see and that’s what you want as a halfback coming up. Even when you make errors, he says he’s always going to back to me. That’s what you want.”
With the Tigers now having lost their last five games and conceding 198 points in the process, the soul-searching will begin, as the club faces a nervous wait in terms of just who will coach them in 2015.
For the Dogs, their finals momentum continues and although they did fall asleep in the second half, Hasler knows that the key is for his players to remain healthy.
“Yeah, it was probably an opportunity to go on with it in the second half a bit,” Hasler said post-game.
“But in saying that, we executed probably a bit better in the first half. It was just a matter of probably staying healthy towards the end there and we rested a few blokes.”
Dogs skipper Michael Ennis echoed his the sentiments of his coach.
“Sometimes it happens,” he said.
“But one area I was really pleased with was our first half, in terms of the way we stuck to our processes and what we needed to do.
“And on the back of that came points. We didn’t try and force points. We earned them, which was good. But as Des said, in the second half, neither side really played any stable football. It was errors, [and it was] pretty stop-start, to be honest.”