Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens has hit back at suggestions that his side “quit” in their historic 74-0 loss to the North Queensland Cowboys.
The result was the third biggest win in the history of Australian first-grade rugby league, and the biggest victory margin since 1935.
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After a tight opening 14 minutes, the resurgent Cowboys ran in 13 unanswered tries thought the next 66 minutes to blow the Tigers away.
It was the perfect response from the Cowboys, who have turned their season around since they were destroyed 66-18 at Leichhardt Oval just six weeks ago.
In one fell swoop, the Cowboys have fixed their for and against and are likely to finish the round in ninth, just two points out of the top eight.
The Tigers however return to the bottom of the ladder, dropping back to 17th as their points differential dropped below the St George Illawarra Dragons.
The unthinkable loss was the biggest in 88-years of top-flight Australian rugby league and one reporter asked what many others would have been thinking.
“Tim, it’s s tough question — has your team quit on you?” the reporter said.
Tigers captain John Bateman shook his head at the suggestion, while Sheen laughed as he said: “That is … no, that’s a stupid question. Sorry mate.”
While Sheens didn’t want to buy into the premise of the question, the stats were dire reading.
The Tigers had just 37 per cent of the ball, completed a 52 per cent (18 from 34 sets), ran for 1003m — 1381m less than the Cowboys, had less than half the post-contact metres, missed 54 tackles and made 16 errors for the match.
But Sheens was also not making any excuses for his side.
“They were up for it,” Sheens said. “The game started toing and froing and we were in the game and then bang, bang, bang they scored three tries and all of a sudden they got their tails up.
“It is just one of those games. There is nothing you can say. When you get beat like that there is nothing much you can say.
“It is about bring on next week. Luckily we play Thursday night and we just want to get back on the field.”
He also admitted there was some inexperience from the side with the likes of Api Koroisau, Luke Brooks and Adam Doueihi out injured.
“But no excuses. We just missed too many tackles and I think we had about 37 per cent possession and you just can’t win like that,” Sheens said.
“Not up here against as good an opposition as them.
“Their form recently has been very strong. Ours hasn’t been and it reflected in the scoreline tonight that’s for sure.
“We have just got to shake it off and wear the embarrassment of it because it is embarrassing to get beat by that score.
“For the whole club not just players. It is coaches as well.
“But in saying that next week is another game so we have got to get through the next 24 hours and then get on with it.”