The Wests Tigers are on the cusp of missing the NRL finals for the fifth time in as many years after turning in one of their worst defensive showings of the year on Friday night.
With their season on the line, the Tigers conceded seven tries in a 40-10 mauling at the hands of Penrith to leave them one point behind eighth-placed Gold Coast, who play Newcastle on Saturday.
It means the Tigers are now relying on the Titans to falter over the final fortnight to make the semis.
“We’ve got a really shattered group of players in the rooms. Just some inconsolable, through the fact that it was such a disappointing performance with the situation we were in,” coach Jason Taylor said.
Taylor accused his team of taking shortcuts during the match, and conceded some bad defensive habits had returned in a concerning effort, particularly in the first half.
After scoring early, the Tigers conceded five tries before the halftime break.
“The only thing I can put that down to was just a lack of energy that was required to go with Penrith in the first half,” he said.
“Because the commitment that the team’s been playing with, the attitude this week at training, the warm-up, the talk, we’ve talked about all this stuff.”
Captain Aaron Woods admitted some of the tries the team conceded was soft.
“We got off to a good start, but played well for five minutes,” he said.
“They just ran harder. Just simple one-on-ones, we gave some crucial penalties away as well which gave them field position. We just took the easy options sometimes, didn’t work hard enough for each other and the energy wasn’t there tonight.”
The Tigers finish the year against the Warriors in Auckland, and then Canberra at Leichhardt Oval.