Forlorn Tigers reliving '89 after NRL exit
September 17, 2011 - 3:39PM
It was meant to be their year, but it ended with the forlorn figures of Wests Tigers stars slumped to the Sydney Football Stadium turf in scenes reminiscent of 1989.
The sight of Wayne Pearce on his haunches that year after a second straight grand final loss, cruelly in extra time against Canberra, is one of the defining images in Tigers’ history.
Current captain Robbie Farah’s despair at fulltime, after his side’s nine-game winning streak was ended 22-20 by rank underdogs the Warriors, might become another.
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“It felt that way,” Balmain’s hooker from `89 Benny Elias told AAP.
"We were always going to win that one and I think in `89 we were always going to win.
"Even at halftime we were thinking about victory and I think the same happened yesterday.
“Unfortunately like a thief in the night it just crashed in the 12th hour. It just got us - boom.”
Elias was referring to the bizarre 78th minute try from Warriors centre Krisnan Inu that put one of the NRL’s best rosters out of business with two weeks to go in the competition.
Farah and coach Tim Sheens refused to dissect the decision after Friday night’s devastating loss but Tigers boss Stephen Humphreys said the strange nature of the try had only made it harder.
“For it to happen so late in the game and in such unusual circumstances, I think that does kind of add something to it but at the end of the day it is what it is,” Humphreys said.
“The fact that we did feel in control of that game and then for it to be taken at the last minute, and it quickly sunk in that that was the last time that group would be playing together, so (those two things) added something to it.”
Farah was still feeling the pain on Saturday, using Twitter to express his feelings.
“Absolutely gutted but proud of (the) boys and the effort we put in all year,” he wrote.
“Losing some of my brothers who it’s been a joy to play with and will be friends for life.”
They include fullback Tim Moltzen (St George Illawarra), forwards Bryce Gibbs and Andrew Fifita (both Cronulla) and assistant coach Peter Gentle (Hull).
Melbourne’s Adam Blair, Parramatta’s Joel Reddy and Penrith’s Matt Bell are their major signings, but Humphreys said the club needed to come to terms with what had just happened before drawing up plans for 2012.
“We’ll let that happen naturally and we’ll regroup and refocus and recommit to next year,” he said.
“I’m confident that the ultimate prize of a premiership, which is highly sought after and very difficult to get, is achievable for this group over the next few years.”
Internet fan forums were flooded with comments on Saturday with one supporter, known online as FootyJimmy, posting his devastation on website weststigersforum.com.
“I was in the stands with my 8 year old today, I saw his lip start to shake when the Video Ref’s decision was pending,” he wrote.
"It looked ominous. When “Try” went up he couldn’t hold back and the tears rolled out.
"Warriors fans jeering us. Their chants ringing in our ears on the way out.
"Reminded me of my own childhood. The first few heartbreakers are oh so tough."