A fired-up Michael Maguire launched his boot into a plastic chair at half-time as his Wests Tigers side clung to a narrow lead.
So you can only imagine what furniture was harmed deep under the Sydney Cricket Ground at full-time as Maguire watched the New Zealand Warriors stun his top-eight hopefuls.
A collective sigh rang out around the ground in the final minute when Chris Lawrence’s final pass for David Nofoaluma sailed forward and into touch, ending hopes of a miracle comeback.
Caretaker coach Todd Payten, who played more than 150 games for the Tigers, inspired the Warriors to a 26-20 victory.
Few could begrudge the Warriors their win after they had farewelled some of their star players during the week, including homesick wingers David Fusitu’a and Ken Maumalo.
The Kiwis fell behind right on the break when Tigers forward Sam McIntyre crashed over near the posts.
But it was all one-way traffic after the break as the Tigers were forced to forever defend their line.
Maguire’s half-time rev-up did not have the desired affect. Warriors hulking centre Peta Hiku jagged a second-half double before Tohu Harris scored to all but seal the result with 15 minutes left on the clock.
There was brief hope of a Tigers late, late comeback when Benji Marshall’s rifle-like cut-out pass helped put Tommy Talau over in the corner. Moses Mbye nailed the conversion from the sideline to get them within a converted try.
But it was too little too late for the Tigers, who blew a golden chance to leap back into the play-off places.
Maguire made it known after a shock loss to the Gold Coast Titans in round four he was sick of the Tigers accepting mediocrity and demanded the players raised standards.
He made it known the club’s habit of losing the games they were meant to win – to the point it became a running gag with fans – was unacceptable.
Based on performances over the past six weeks, especially their gritty display to run Parramatta close eight days earlier, the Tigers should have won this one comfortably.
For a brief moment, it looked like being an SCG savaging as the Tigers raced to an 8-0 lead with tries to Mbye and Nofoaluma.
Luciano Leilua flung a no-look pass for Mbye while Nofoaluma caught a lovely Adam Doueihi cut-out pass and somehow stayed in the field of play to make it 11 tries this season.
The Warriors hit back through Karl Lawton, who was able to go for a short gallop out of dummy half and score.
The Tigers’ completion rate was near perfect but they were forced to start their sets deep inside their own half.
Maybe the high-impact game against the Eels, with several injuries and head-injury assessments, had drained the Tigers’ tank. Maybe they took the patched-up Warriors side too lightly.
Either way, they will need to fix things up quick smart in time for next Saturday’s road trip to Newcastle.
It will be Lawrence’s 250th game for the club. Lawrence at one stage feared he had suffered an injury as he flipped over the back of Eliesa Katoa. He could only look to the heavens at the end of the game after he tried to unsuccessfully squeeze the match-winner.
The Warriors, who had a serious dig against the Roosters last weekend, will play Manly at Lottoland next Friday.
Wests Tigers, New Zealand Warriors, National Rugby League, Michael Maguire, Sydney Roosters, Peta Hiku
World news – AU – Kick in the guts for Maguire as patched-up Warriors outfight Tigers