Page 1 of 1

Media Reports

Posted: Fri 17 Sep, 2010 11:14 pm
by willow
Lazarus-like recovery for Tigers
September 17, 2010 - 10:01PM

Raiders 24 Tigers 26

They either fooled everyone all week, or they performed a Lazarus-like recovery.

That name might be synonymous with their opponents Canberra, but the Wests Tigers somehow managed to empty a huge casualty ward onto Canberra Stadium for Friday night's 26-24 semi-final win.

As the Raiders lost captain Terry Campese to what appeared a serious knee injury, the Tigers had the benefit of all five in-doubt stars playing.

Most significant was brilliant five-eighth Benji Marshall, who had sat out the closing stages of last Saturday's gruelling 100-minute golden-point loss to the Sydney Roosters with ice on a bung knee.

He showed no sign of that Friday night, laying on the Tigers' first two tries and looking dangerous with every touch of the ball.

Backrower Gareth Ellis spent much of the week in the team's best friend, the hyperbaric chamber, before overcoming a back injury and storming over for the Tigers' second try.

Centre Chris Lawrence played after breaking his jaw less than three weeks ago but the Raiders clearly targeted him through wide-running secondrower Bronson Harrison.

The Kiwi international scored one and laid on another two through that channel as Lawrence's uncharacteristic grabs showed he was nowhere near 100 per cent.

He made some amends, though, with a 49th minute try.

His centre partner Blake Ayshford had been quarantined from team-mates and was only cleared of glandular fever midweek.

Coach Tim Sheens had called him "very doubtful" on Thursday but there he was.

Prop Bryce Gibbs (knee) was even promoted from the bench to a starting role but might have wished he hadn't when he copped a high shot from David Shillington in the opening minute.

For lock Chris Heighington, the wounds might have been more emotional after he lost the crucial ball at the back of a scrum which allowed the Roosters to send last weekend's match into extra time.

But that all changed when he wobbled from the field in the 49th minute after a Scott Logan high shot which is certain to attract the attention of the match review committee.

The Raiders were left to ponder a cruel irony - an injury-marred build-up for their opponents had turned into them losing their best player, Campese, just when a comeback looked on.

WESTS TIGERS 26 (G Ellis C Heighington C Lawrence L Tuqiri tries B Marshall 5 goals) bt CANBERRA 24 (B Harrison J Monaghan T Thurling A Tongue tries J Croker 4 goals) at Canberra Stadium. Referee: Tony Archer, Jared Maxwell. Crowd: 26,476

Re: Media Reports

Posted: Fri 17 Sep, 2010 11:14 pm
by willow
WESTS TIGERS BEAT CANBERRA 26-24 IN SEMI-FINAL
By Wayne Cousins, Canberra Stadium.
17/09/2010 9:46:50 PM

Wests Tigers recorded a hard fought 26-24 victory over Canberra Raiders tonight at Canberra Stadium in the Telstra Premiership elimination semi-final.

In a match played in front of a new ground record crowd of 26, 476, Wests Tigers led from start to finish to overcome the home crowd to move into the preliminary final against minor premiers St George-Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium next Saturday night.

It was a gutsy win by the Wests Tigers after a heavy injury toll during the week and on the back of a 100 minute golden point loss to the Roosters in the qualifying final.

Wests Tigers dominated the opening two minutes through possession which saw lock Chris Heighington come close to scoring in the corner.
Wests Tigers opened the scoring in the seventh minute through lock Chris Heighington.

It came off the back of a bullocking 20 metre run by prop Keith Galloway when he ran over the top of Canberra hooker Glen Buttriss before being pulled down 10 metres short of the line.

On the next play, the ball was spread right with five-eighth Benji Marshall brushing off an attempted tackle before turning in a behind the back inside flick pass for Heighington to score.

Marshall converted the try for a 6-0 lead.

Canberra opened their account when former Wests Tigers back-rower Bronson Harrison brushed past Galloway to use his strength to beat full-back Mitch Brown to crash over out wide in a 10 metre run. Centre Jarrod Croker converted the try for a 6-6 scoreline after 15 minutes.

Two minutes later, Wests Tigers regained the lead when second-rower Gareth Ellis ran a great line to hit a gap off a Marshall pass to score behind the posts. It came off a drop ball by Canberra prop Tom Learoyd-Lahrs. Marshall converted the try for a 12-6 lead after 18 minutes.

Wests Tigers winger Lote Tuqiri then stretched the lead to 16-6 when he finished off a set play from a scrum win to score under the posts in the 24th minute.

Half-back Robert Lui fed the ball with hooker Robbie Farah at lock. Farah picked the ball up from the scrum base, gave the ball to Lui, who then drew in the winger to send Tuqiri on a 55 metre run to beat Canberra full-back Josh Duggan to bring the ball around and place it under the posts.
Marshall converted the try for an 18-6 lead after 25 minutes.

Canberra hit back in the 27th minute when centre Joel Monaghan scored next to the posts from a tap after Harrison sliced through the tackle of Chris Lawrence to draw in Brown for Monaghan to score.

Croker converted the try to make it 18-12 after 29 minutes.
The Raiders applied plenty of pressure in the final minutes of the first half but Wests Tigers scrambled well in defence to keep them at bay for an 18-12 lead at the break.

2nd Half
Heighington was hit with a swinging left arm by prop Scott Logan in the 46th minute. He was replaced on report with Heighington escorted off the field by two trainers. He was replaced by Simon Dwyer.

A repeat set of six led to Lawrence scoring in the corner in 49th minute after the ball was shifted left through quick hands following another strong run by Galloway on the previous play.

Marshall converted the try from the sideline with the ball floating through on the inside of the right posts to give Wests Tigers a 24-12 lead.

Canberra got back to 24-16 when forward Trevor Thurling spun in a tackle to score after Harrison managed to offload in a three man tackle to Learoyd-Lahrs who offloaded to Thurling to score. Croker converted the try to leave the Raiders trailing 24-18.

The try came at a price after Campese suffered a left knee injury in stepping and left the field with trainers following the try.

Heighington returned to the field after recovering from the swinging arm to his jaw.

Lawrence pulled off a massive play when he tackled Josh Dugan into touch after he regathered a kick through from Tuqiri before beating him.
It gave Wests Tigers a scrum feed 10 metres out from the Raiders tryline in the 67th minute.

Referee Jared Maxwell then penalised Canberra in front of their posts for Learoyd-Lahrs lying all over prop Bryce Gibbs and not letting him to get up and play the ball.

Marshall converted the try to give Wests Tigers a 26-18 lead after 69 minutes.

A chip kick on the last tackle by Croker saw Ayshford knock the ball on to give Canberra a scrum feed 25 metres out. Fortunately the Wests Tigers defence held firm before a mistake by Canberra in the ensuring six saw Wests Tigers get the ball back.

Canberra co-captain Alan Tongue rolled over to score on the last tackle in the 74th minute after he picked up the loose ball ahead of Lui.

The try was awarded by video referee Bill Harrigan to leave the Raiders trailing 26-22.

Croker converted the try to leave the Raiders trailing 26-24 after 75 minutes.

The Raiders were awarded a controversial penalty after Dwyer was penalised for a swinging arm on second-rower Joe Picker that saw lose the ball. Croker lined up for the shot from 30 metres out to the left of the posts.

He failed to convert the penalty attempt with 3m.28secs left on the clock. The ball went dead to force a goal line drop out to give the Raiders another set before the Raiders lost the ball with second-rower Liam Fulton picking the ball up.

Farah put a downfield grubber kick at the end of the Wests Tigers set to give Canberra another set of six inside the final two minutes.

The Raiders then lost the ball to leave Wests Tigers with a scrum feed in the final minute. The Wests Tigers slowly played out the set as the clock ticked down to give them a thrilling 26-24 victory. Marshall was outstanding in attack and kicked 5/5 goals.

Re: Media Reports

Posted: Fri 17 Sep, 2010 11:16 pm
by willow
Marshall back to bury Raiders

Updated September 17, 2010 22:37:00


Kiwi international Benji Marshall passed a late fitness test and made the most of his chance, wreaking havoc to lead Wests Tigers past Canberra 26-24 and into the NRL preliminary finals.

Marshall's recovery from a knee injury against the Roosters clearly went to plan and the scheming five-eighth masterminded the Tigers' passage into the final four and a showdown with minor premier St George Illawarra.

The Raiders did not exit quietly though and even when they looked down and out - with an eight-point deficit and inspirational playmaker Terry Campese icing his knee in the sheds - the Green Machine showed fight in the tail with Alan Tongue crossing for a late try.

Josh Dugan shouldered some of the creative burden when Campese was taken off with what looked a serious knee injury and supplied the grubber for fit-again co-captain Tongue to pounce for crucial points.

That had Wests sweating a climactic final six minutes and banking on a narrow two-point lead for which they had Marshall's 68th-minute penalty goal to thank, but a penalty against Simon Dwyer gave Jarrod Croker the chance to level the scores from 30 metres out.

Croker, who in round 15 took over Canberra's goal kicking duties from Campese, struck his effort well but dragged the shot just wide of the right-hand upright as the Tigers hung on to keep alive their hopes of a second premiership in six seasons.

The Tigers visited Canberra after an exhausting golden point defeat at the hands of Sydney Roosters last week to face a Raiders outfit buoyed by nine wins from their last 10 matches including last week's 24-22 triumph in Penrith.

Marshall led other injury-affected stars Chris Lawrence and Blake Ayshford onto the field and took control with a mesmerising passing and kicking game that helped the Tigers put on three converted tries by half-time.

Marshall's trademark flick pass set up Chris Heighington for the opener in the seventh minute, before picking up Gareth Ellis on a devastating outside-in line with a precise short ball that put the Englishman clear for the second.

Those efforts were punctuated by Bronson Harrison's barging try in the 14th minute that made a mockery of the Tigers' left-edge defence and justified the hype surrounding Canberra's monster pack.

The Raiders would attack that side for another try before half-time, with Harrison again doing the damage to set up Joel Monaghan, but the Tigers in the meantime set about ensuring a half-time lead with a stunning try from Lote Tuqiri midway through the opening stanza.

Robert Lui and Robbie Farah linked up on a second-man play off the scrum which created an overlap for Tuqiri on the outside, and the dual international streaked down the left flank with blinding speed that had the Raiders' flying young full-back Dugan clutching at air.

With an 18-12 advantage at the break, Wests jumped out by two converted tries when Lawrence crossed for the Tigers' fourth nine minutes after the restart, but the Raiders again showed resolve to fight back eight minutes later.

Trevor Thurling reaped the reward of persistence when he pounded through the tiring Tigers' defence in the 57th minute with Croker's conversion keeping the home side well and truly a chance.

But the misfortune of Campese's injury, suffered innocuously as his left knee gave way on a run with ball in hand, coupled with Marshall's penalty shot conspired to all but rub the Raiders out of the match.

Tongue's late try gave them a narrow chance and had Croker's effort landed it may have been a different story for the Raiders, whose young and inexperienced squad will now look to 2011 as the Tigers prepare for a blockbuster against the Dragons at Sydney's Olympic stadium.

Re: Media Reports

Posted: Fri 17 Sep, 2010 11:28 pm
by willow
Tigers hang on to pip Raiders 26-24

A Benji Marshall-inspired Wests Tigers benefited from a stunning Jarrod Croker missed penalty to advance to within one win of the NRL grand final with a pulsating 26-24 semi-final win over Canberra on Friday night.

In doubt all week with a knee injury suffered in the dying stages of the Tigers' dramatic golden point loss to the Sydney Roosters, Marshall was brilliant with a leading hand in three of his side's four tries to set up a preliminary final against St George Illawarra on Saturday week.

But as good as Marshall and the Tigers were, they were forced to rely on Croker missing what he would normally make, the Cinderella story falling short of golden point when the young centre pushed wide from 30 metres out with four minutes remaining.

Canberra looked dead and buried when linchpin Terry Campese was stretchered off with a knee injury 23 minutes from time, but fellow co-captain Alan Tongue revived their hopes with a gutsy try to bring the home side within two points five minutes from time.

Marshall took all of seven minutes to prove to everyone in the record 26,746-strong crowd there was nothing wrong with his legs, or his hands.

Having shrugged out of one tackle, the Kiwi international sent Chris Heighington over untouched with a flick pass so trademark no-one else would even dare attempt.

It may have taken the Raiders until the 11th minute to finally get into the opposition half but the wait proved worth it, Bronson Harrison beginning his abuse of the Tigers' left side defence as he rumbled over to lock up the scores.

Not to be outdone Marshall returned serve with a deft no-look pass for Gareth Ellis to go under the posts untouched, The Raiders made to pay for a Shaun Fensom knock-on from the restart.

The Tigers kicked out by two converted tries on 20 minutes when a brilliantly worked scrum move allowed Lote Tuqiri to show he still had a bit of toe, the dual international out-sprinting young gun Josh Dugan on a 60 metre run to the line.

The onslaught failed to deter the Raiders who went back to a familiar well - Chris Lawrence and Tuqiri needing not have bothered with their tackles on Harrison so feeble were their attempts as Joel Monaghan left the home side trailing 18-12 at the break.

Raiders big man Scott Logan was put on report for a high shot which left Heighington dazed to open the second stanza, but there was nothing wrong with Marshall and Robert Lui as they sent Lawrence - back less than three weeks after breaking his jaw - over out wide.

Some desperate Tigers goal line defence maintained the 12-point buffer before Campese's ultimately tragic run to set up Trevor Thurling's try got the Raiders back in the game.

The sight of Campese going off on the back of the medicab seemed to deflate Canberra's fans and their players, a situation which only worsened when an innocuous penalty allowed the Tigers to establish an eight-point lead before Canberra's late heroics.

"It goes to show how tough a group we are," Tigers skipper Robbie Farah said.

"After last week I don't think anyone gave us a chance coming down here but we put last week behind us and that was pretty tough to do.

"To come down here and get a win away from home with so many injuries backing up after a hundred minutes, it was probably one of the best wins the club has ever had."

While disappointed, Raiders coach David Furner couldn't fault his side's commitment to stay in the game.

"That second half spirit of the players - we got within two points to go into extra time," Furner said.

"You've got to take your opportunities and we probably came up with a few errors there where we didn't put pressure on them ... I was very proud of that second half."

Re: Media Reports

Posted: Sat 18 Sep, 2010 9:40 am
by willow
Wests Tigers beat Canberra Raiders in NRL semi final

* Josh Massoud
* From: The Daily Telegraph
* September 18, 2010 12:00AM

THERE'S six minutes left and the deja vu is palpable.

With their tortured fans again reaching for the heart medication, the Wests Tigers assembled behind the posts as their season threatened to disappear beneath a second straight loss snatched from the jaws of victory.

Raiders skipper Alan Tongue had just crossed to bring the home side within two points, and the mental toll of last Saturday night's painful defeat to the Roosters hung that much heavier for those in the record 26,476 crowd wearing black and gold.

Full match details and stats

"There was a bit said behind the posts about last week," Tigers winger Lote Tuqiri revealed afterwards.

"When Alan Tongue scored, we said to one another: 'We can't let this one go'. "We had to look at last week - we could have either taken it positively or negatively."

Through a week spent nursing physical and emotional scars, the Tigers refused to lay down. They carried six players into the match who couldn't train, and tackled for dear life. They made their own luck and rode it to the very limit, which was reached in the 76th minute when Raiders sharp-shooter Jarrod Croker missed a simple penalty that would've prescribed bout of golden point chaos.

"It's been one of the most emotional rollercoaster rides I've had as a footballer," Tuqiri, a dual international said. "We all showed a bit of emotion out there. There was plenty of yahooing. It was a big win".

Skipper Robbie Farah went a step further, anointing the team's courageous win one of its finest hours.

"It goes to show how tough as a group we are, to win after last week," Farah said.

"We put last week behind us, which was tough to do.

"With so many injuries and backing-up after 100 minutes, it's probably one of the best wins the club has had."

Almost lost amid the agony and ecstacy of Croker's missed goal was a serious knee injury suffered by Raiders skipper Terry Campese, who could only watch in vain as his teammates attempted to extend their fairytale run another week.

Even if it had been inked with a calligraphy pen, the script could not have been written better for a Raiders romp. Their frozen fortess trembled with a thunderous roar at every opportunity.

Wests coach Tim Sheens said his side aimed to start strong, to burst the crowd's excitement. And they did just that, with Chris Heighington - who later returned from a heavy concussion - scoring after just seven minutes.

One of the wounded, Benji Marshall (knee) laid on that try with a trademark flick pass. After Canberra had levelled through Bronson Harrison, arguably the best on ground, Marshall then sent Gareth Ellis across with a less audacious ball.

Tuqiri's 60 metre effort from a cheeky blindside scrum move gave the Tigers a 12-point advantage, and they were still clinging to that margin like subborn nail-polish when the Raiders began their run with Trevor Thurling's try in the 59th minute.

In the end, a Marshall penalty goal - awarded in the 69th minute when Tom Leoroyd-Lahrs held down Bryce Gibbs - spirited Wests to within just 80 minutes of a grand final appearance.

Re: Media Reports

Posted: Sat 18 Sep, 2010 9:42 am
by willow
'Injured' Wests fit to burst
Greg Prichard, Canberra
September 18, 2010

THIS was rugby league's version of The Sting. Let the opposition think you're so battered you'll be lucky to field a team, and then go out with your nominated side intact and pull off a courageous win to stay alive in the finals race.

But it only came off for Wests Tigers after Canberra centre Jarrod Croker had missed a shot at a penalty goal that would have sent the game into extra-time. His miss, from a relatively straight-forward position, came three minutes from full-time, after the Raiders had fought to just two points down despite losing playmaker Terry Campese to a serious knee injury in the 57th minute.

There was no doubt it was a gutsy win by the Tigers, but they cleverly played the injury card for all it was worth leading up to the game. There were more players unable to train than there were fit to train at the start of the week, they said, and there were no guarantees given about stars such as Benji Marshall, Gareth Ellis and Bryce Gibbs taking the field.

But they all ended up playing. In fact, the Tigers fielded a stronger team than they did in last weekend's loss to Sydney Roosters, when you include the return of star centre Chris Lawrence from a broken jaw that had forced him to miss two games.

Marshall showed no after-effects from the knee injury that forced him to sit out the dramatic final stages against the Roosters. He was always going to play last night, but the club was never going to say that.

He bounced out of the blocks, trying his luck in the fifth minute with a 25-metre pass to winger Beau Ryan that didn't come off, and then hitting the jackpot two minutes later.

Prop Keith Galloway put the defence in disarray by leaving stud marks on Raiders hooker Glen Buttriss as he ran over the top of him, and on the next play Marshall shrugged off a tackle and passing to second-rower Chris Heighington for a try.

An ex-Tiger, second-rower Bronson Harrison, answered for the home side, but then Marshall was at it again, angling across the field and finding second-rower Gareth Ellis running straight for the try.

After winger Lote Tuqiri's runaway try down the blind side off a sneaky scrum move after 20 minutes, the Raiders trailed 18-6 and were on the brink. Were the fairytale team of the finals headed for an unhappy ending? Had it become a little too aware of the occasion and felt the nerves?

Even in these days of big leads routinely being run down, the Raiders really couldn't afford to take the risk of falling any further behind, and to their credit they answered the call by coming up with the next try.

But in a half that had brought plenty of points, with the Tigers leading 18-12, it was a period right at the end of the half, which bore no points, that said the most about the attitude of the visitors. The Raiders had great field position for their final set, and had they managed to come up with a converted try to lock the game up it would have done their mindset untold good, but the Tigers held them out.

Canberra hadn't known what it was like to play from behind in this finals series. It never trailed Penrith in last week's game, but here it was having to look its season in the eye, and when the Tigers doubled their lead by scoring the first try of the second half, the pressure had suddenly shot up to near the top of the dial.

The one thing the Raiders could have tried to hang on to was the fact the Tigers were beaten after losing by 13 points to the Roosters. It was almost enough, but not quite.

Re: Media Reports

Posted: Sat 18 Sep, 2010 9:42 am
by willow
Heighington breathes sigh of relief as Sheens's men live to fight another day
Glenn Jackson
September 18, 2010

REDEMPTION will be a buzzword among most Wests Tigers after they shocked Canberra last night, but it will be spoken loudest by one man. Not that Chris Heighington will be able to remember much of it.

Of all the what ifs that occurred during the 100-minute qualifying final against the Roosters last Saturday night, back-rower Heighington's effort at the back of a scrum has been replayed on television and no doubt in his own mind repeatedly. Heighington has been a shattered man this week after allowing Roosters forward Frank-Paul Nuuausala to pounce on the ball from the controversial scrum in the dying stages of regulation time.

Heighington delayed a split second too long when locking the scrum and Nuuausala pilfered the ball from him, allowing Roosters back-rower Braith Anasta to send the match into extra time with a final-minute field goal. But seven minutes into last night's clash, Heighington found himself on the end of a Benji Marshall flick pass to score, allowing himself some cause to smile after a trying week. Heighington took all his frustrations out on the football, sending it high off his right boot and hopefully sending his demons with it.

For Heighington, the night almost ended with another forgettable moment, although this one wasn't his own doing. In the 46th minute, he was struck by a high tackle from Raiders prop Scott Logan, who was placed on report for his troubles.

Heighington was helped off with the wobbles although he returned for the final quarter.

Then there was Gareth Ellis, the equally likeable Englishman who had been unable to claim a try despite finding himself in possession on three occasions over the tryline against the Roosters; losing possession twice and finally believing he had scored only for the play to be disallowed because Marshall had thrown a punch at Mitchell Pearce.

Marshall was the provider this time, rather than the aggressor. The five-eighth drifted across field after 16 minutes and Ellis, who had been in doubt with a back injury all week, ran a delicious angle to score, giving the Tigers a 12-6 lead.

Unlike last week, they held on. Not that there weren't nervous moments.

Most of them were caused by a former Tiger. Bronson Harrison missed out on the 2005 grand final team, only being able to nab a spot in the extended squad. And he was foiled again last night, despite a performance of significance.

The second-rower caused the Tigers left-hand defence huge problems in the first half with some surging runs and neat footwork. He scored by bumping off a few Tigers in the 13th minute, and provided the assist for the Raiders' other try of the half, eventually scored by centre Joel Monaghan.

But this was a night for redemption to beat the Raiders. Heighington can breath again.

Re: Media Reports

Posted: Sat 18 Sep, 2010 9:44 am
by willow
Marshall and Farah evoke spirit of '05
Glenn Jackson
September 18, 2010

THEY were in tune the whole game and last night Wests Tigers maestros Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah were equally so after it; both declared last night's victory over Canberra as one of the most special in the club's history.

Five-eighth Marshall, who was in doubt all week with a knee injury only to orchestrate the 26-24 victory over the Raiders, handing them a preliminary final against St George Illawarra, said the win was on a par with their run through the finals in 2005.

''Only because of the courage we showed to hang in there,'' Marshall said. ''Everything was against us. We were written off halfway through the week. I'm just proud of the boys. This is something special.''

Farah, the gutsy Tigers hooker, said the circumstances made the victory so special, coming just six days after a mentally and physically draining loss to the Sydney Roosters. ''It just goes to show how tough a group we are,'' Farah said. ''After last week, I don't think anyone gave us a chance, coming down here, but we put last week behind us and that was tough to do. Obviously it was an emotional game. Credit to us boys, to come down here and get a win away from home with so many injuries, backing up after a hundred minutes, I think it's one of the best wins the club's ever had.''

But while Marshall, who had one full training session after suffering a knee injury towards the end of the defeat to the Roosters, was quietly confident of disposing of the Dragons - as the Tigers did in 2005 on the way to grand final victory over North Queensland - still, remarkably, there were elements of their victory last night which frustrated him.

''I'm stoked that we won, but I'm a little bit disappointed in how it panned out,'' Marshall said. ''It was tough, but I felt like we're still getting better.''

Certainly a number of players who were in doubt for the clash will be better for the run, not least Marshall, who has now won eight matches out of eight games against the Raiders since his first-grade debut.

Centre Chris Lawrence, who returned from a broken jaw, Gareth Ellis (back), Blake Ayshford (virus) and Bryce Gibbs (knee) will be allowed a precious eight days of recovery time. ''We took a big punt … and we got through it,'' Sheens said.

Sheens described the win as ''emotional''. ''It was a big effort to come back from last week, and be the better side all night.''

Second-rower Chris Heighington received some precious redemption for himself. Of all the what-ifs that occurred during the 100-minute qualifying final against the Roosters last Saturday night, back-rower Heighington's effort at the back of a scrum has been replayed on television - and no doubt in his own mind - repeatedly. Heighington has been a shattered man this week after allowing Roosters forward Frank-Paul Nuuausala to pounce on the ball from the controversial scrum in the dying stages of regulation time.

Heighington delayed a split second too long when locking the scrum and Nuuausala pilfered the ball from him, allowing Roosters back-rower Braith Anasta to send the match into extra time with a final-minute field goal. But seven minutes into last night's clash, Heighington found himself on the end of a Benji Marshall flick pass to score, giving him some cause to smile after a trying week.

Heighington took all his frustrations out on the football, sending it high off his right boot and hopefully sending his demons with it. ''I'm just that proud of the boys,'' Heighington said.

''It's probably the best win I've ever been a part of, to come here after a hundred minutes of hard footy and how disappointing it obviously was. To be honest, I just love playing with these blokes.

''Obviously the Roosters [match] was disappointing. We probably played our best ever footy for 65 minutes, and we still lost. Everyone was shattered for a couple of days, but we got back out there as a team again and put a really good performance in. It was one of those games where, if only I had dropped on the ball …'' Heighington said.

''It hurt me. I took the blame. The boys wouldn't let me take it, but I took it to heart. I thought my performance was one of the best all year but I kept drawing back to that one moment.''