During the same half-time, the Tigers confirmed that a number of players would be leaving the club. Captain James Tamou led a list that also included Jock Madden, departing center James Roberts, Penrith-bound Luke Garner and Manly pick-up Kelma Tuilagi.
Tamou, who was suspended for one finals match at Leichhardt Oval when he had his referee abuse ban reduced to one match, stood right on the touchline when he wasn’t on the pitch and barked instructions at his younger team-mates like he was coaching under-6s. Who could blame him? If this is to be his last NRL game, what a way out.
“When I came out on the bench, I sat with my head in my hands and I was just like, ‘What am I doing? Get up and help the boys out,” Tamou said.
“I didn’t want to avoid at all. To the credit of the boys, I am very proud of me.
“You ask what’s in store for the club next year, the pain the players have gone through this year, you just have to look in the mirror and [think]”Change is coming next year, but I have to do more to help that change”. We’ve had some dark times and I think that will help the club.
“I hope you understand where they are and I saw the looks on their faces. Every loss there was devastating.”
In Hudson Young, Stuart has a back-rower capable of injecting Storm Craig Bellamy. World Cup hope scored twice and came closer. He may be half the size of Nelson Asofa-Solomona, but you’d be brave to suggest he’s no match at AAMI Park, a happy hunting ground for the Raiders in recent years.
“What they’ve done in the last three months is an extraordinary achievement, but it’s not over yet,” Stuart said. “We’re not just there to make numbers, as a lot of people think.
“I understand a lot of people didn’t think we would get to the semi-finals halfway through the competition, but the toughness of these guys makes me very proud as a coach. We timed it perfectly.”
In defense of interim Tigers coach Brett Kimmorley, his team came up with a completely different proposition in the second half. Daine Laurie scored, followed by Ken Maumalo. The crowd cheered and this time it wasn’t from the Bronx.
All it took was moving Joseph Tapin and Josh Papali’i off the bench to wake up the Raiders.
Tim Sheens will need to be as good as he was in his heyday coaching the Raiders in the 1990s if he is to take this Tigers team anywhere close to the top eight next year, even with the arrivals of Api Koroisau and Isaiah Papali’i. . It still might not be enough.
As for those poor Tigers fans who stayed on the mound until they died…
Did someone say KFC?
CANBERRA RAIDERS 56 (Hudson Young 2, Matt Timoko, Sebastian Kris, Nick Cotric, Jordan Rapana, Xavier Savage, Jamal Fogarty, Josh Papalii tries; Fogarty 7, Rapana 3 goals) defeated WESTERN TIGERS 10 (Daine Laurie, Ken Maumalo tries; Adam Doueihi goal) at Leichhardt Oval. Referee: Gerard Sutton. Crowd: 10,041.
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