Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary has declared his side’s NRL finals hopes still alive despite requiring a minor miracle to make the top eight.
The Tigers’ chances of breaking their seven-year finals drought was put on life support following their disappointing 20-10 loss to St George Illawarra on Saturday night.
With two fixtures remaining and sitting two victories outside the eight, the formula is simple for Cleary and his men.
Firstly, they must beat Manly and Newcastle in the final two rounds.
Then they require numerous results to go their way.
They need either the Warriors to drop their finals games against Canterbury (on Sunday), Penrith and Canberra.
Or for the Broncos to go down in their remaining two against the Sydney Roosters and the Sea Eagles.
While their fate is out of their hands, Cleary is refusing to give up.
“The season’s not over,” Cleary said.
“We’ve got two more games to go. We can’t control other things but the reality is we are still alive. Anything can happen still.
“Our season wasn’t going to be defined by anyone external. It was going to be defined by what we did.
“We’ve got a quick (turnaround) against the Sea Eagles out there at Campbelltown (on Thursday) and the job is for us to go out there and perform.”
Saturday’s loss was a microcosm for their troubles all year as they continued to struggle to put points on the board.
On five occasions in the first-half they dropped the ball inside the Dragons’ 20 metre zone and repeatedly botched opportunities.
While there is no doubting their defensive resolve – and they are on track to set a new club record for least points conceded in a season – they have been amongst the competition’s least effective attacking teams all year.
According to Fox Sports Stats, they have scored the least points (15.7 per game) and made the third least linebreaks (3.8).
“We’ve had a season where defence has been a foundation for us,” Cleary said.
“Attack hasn’t come so easy. I just thought maybe we weren’t used to sticking our nose through.
“If I had all the answers, then we would have won the game.”