IT WAS hard to determine who was more frustrated, Tim Sheens or Stephen Kearney, after they witnessed a bizarre ending to the match at Parramatta Stadium yesterday afternoon.
Sheens was furious with his team's late-match capitulation, in which they conceded 30 points in 14 minutes, dropping an F-bomb in the post-match press conference. ''I'm f---ing … Oh,'' Sheens said as he tried to express his disappointment.
Robbie Farah saw the funny side of it, as he chuckled away alongside his red-faced coach, but there was nothing funny about the way the Tigers finished the match. They put the cue in the rack when they had the opportunity to bury Parramatta and send out a clear warning to rival clubs, angering the veteran coach.
''31-0 with 14 minutes to go and you let them score and get within a point and have one disallowed - two disallowed … it's rubbish,'' Sheens said. ''The positive is the win.''
The Tigers looked on track to rack up their second consecutive win without conceding a point, something the joint-venture had never achieved before their round-seven win against Penrith a fortnight ago.
It's a lapse of concentration that could come back to bite the Tigers at the back end of the year, especially if it comes down to for-and-against, with Farah admitting his team was guilty of clocking off.
''We had an opportunity to post two 30-0 wins consecutively, which would have been great to get our season under way and, points-wise, entrench us right in the middle there,'' Farah said. ''We let that slip now and there's a lot of work to be done. I think at 31-0 with 13 to go you probably start looking at the clock and thinking, 'Here we go, we've got the cue in the rack', but with a team like Parra and with guys like Jarryd Hayne, they just grow a leg and start offloading and start playing touch footy on us and it felt like we were in quicksand, but we definitely didn't help our own cause.''
For Kearney, it was an all-too-familiar feeling trying to come up with some positives following yet another loss. The final 14 minutes certainly provided Eels fans - and Kearney for that matter - with a glimpse of hope heading into Friday night's clash against Canterbury at ANZ Stadium. But Kearney lamented his team's start to the game, critical of their ball control.
''I think it was something like 53 per cent completions on our part in the first half, and you just put too much pressure on yourselves,'' he said. ''We had a couple of opportunities in that first half - Benny [Roberts] dropped the ball and Reni [Maitua] had an opportunity as well. We had some opportunities there, but that 20-minute rally, for me it did [camouflage the rest of the game].''
Nathan Hindmarsh, who up until this season was playing 80 minutes every game, has had his game-time cut dramatically this year.
While he admitted he preferred to remain on the field for the entire game, he's willing to do what it takes if it's the best thing for the team.
''I could have had longer but that's they way they used the interchange,'' he said. ''It was a bit weird today - because usually around the 60-minute mark I come off - I was sitting beside Timmy Mannah saying, 'So this is what the front-rowers do, play for 20 minutes, wait for a while and go back on again.'
''As long as we start winning games, I can play 10 minutes. I've come to that conclusion that as long as I'm out there contributing in some way, I'll play as many minutes as they want me to play.''
Tigers prop Aaron Woods is firming with each match as an Origin bolter, starring for the Tigers in the one-point win.
''He's going forward in leaps and bounds, that young lad,'' Sheens said. ''He played against Mannah and company today and I didn't think he lost anything by that.
''He's only young, whether they use him or not use him this year, he's headed that way for sure … I think he's got rep footy written all over him.''