Mick Potter has described Wests Tigers’ battling 19-18 NRL win over Canberra on Saturday as one of the most courageous performances he’s seen by any side.
The Tigers played most of the second half with 14 players and at one stage in the second half had three players out of position after James Tedesco, Tim Simona and David Nofoaluma were all off the field injured.
Nofoaluma bravely came back on after 15 minutes in the sheds with his left knee heavily strapped, but no sooner had he returned back-rower Sauaso Sue departed the field with a shoulder injury.
“The team nearly wants to die for one another to scrounge a win,” Potter said.
“The character they have shown I don’t think I have seen better given the adversity we copped.”
The win lifted the Tigers back into the top eight but it came at a cost with Tedesco set to miss the rest of the season after suffering a fractured kneecap 10 seconds into the game.
It is the second serious injury he has sustained to his left knee after missing the whole of the 2012 campaign after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligaments on his debut.
“It’s unfortunate, it was a contact injury and that’ll be his season, but he’ll bounce back from that,” Potter said.
“He’s a great kid, he does his rehab really well, he’s suffered a bit of adversity before so he knows how to come back well.”
Two tries from Nofoaluma and a Pat Richards effort gave the hosts a 18-12 lead at halftime with exciting young Raiders winger Brenko Lee bagging a brace for his side.
A Braith Anasta field goal seven minutes from time sealed the win after the Tigers defended six successive sets on their own line with the Raiders only having a Jarrod Croker try to show for their dominance.
Croker then had the chance to win the game with a penalty, 35 metres from goal but sprayed the kick wide right allowing the Tigers to hold on for a memorable win in an action-packed encounter that contained several flashpoints between both sets of players.
The main one was between Tigers skipper Robbie Farah and Raiders prop David Shillington, who he angrily accused of eye-gouging him in a tackle.
Farah was asked by the referee if he wanted to make a formal complaint after calling the incident a “dog act” on the field.
However, he said he accepted Shillington’s explanation that it was accidental.
“Shillo is a good guy, I’ve roomed with him and been on tour with him,” Farah said.
“I definitely felt something, but I trust him and he said he didn’t mean it.
“I didn’t want to make an official complaint or get him suspended it was the heat of the battle and we moved on.
“He just said he was trying to push me off and there was no intention in it and I believed him.”
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was furious at his side’s inability to overcome a team that was so under-manned in the second half.
“Under those conditions we should have put them away it was simply not good enough, it’s as simple as that,” Stuart said.
“You can’t dodge around the truth, we should have won that game with what happened to that team tonight.
“It unacceptable how they got beaten. If we think we are a first grade football team then we should have won.”