Michael Maguire got the response he wanted from mass changes but it could not stop the Wests Tigers falling 14-6 to Canberra at Campbelltown.
Having axed Benji Marshall and four other players after last Sunday’s defeat by Gold Coast, the Tigers appeared to receive the message, controlling the first half to lead 4-0 at the break.
But then the wheels fell off and their 80 per cent completion rate dropped away dramatically.
A disappointed Russell Packer, who had waited 418 days to make his NRL return from a foot injury, was at the centre of most of it.
As the Raiders dominated the ball in the second half, he was one of four Tigers to miss Jack Wighton as the Canberra man stepped his way to the line.
That made it 6-4, and moments later Packer found himself in the sin-bin for a professional foul after Alex Twal was called for a late strip on Jordan Rapana.
Again, the Raiders were able to capitalise with Nick Cotric running onto a George Williams grubber to cross.
Then on Packer’s return, and after the Tigers kicked a penalty goal to reduce the margin to six, he found himself in the action again.
The former Kiwi international hit Joseph Tapine high, allowing Jarrod Croker to kick the Raiders eight clear and leaving himself facing a possible suspension.
The former captain’s madcap 12-minute stint summed up the Tigers’ second half.
They completed at just 63 per cent, and trailed the penalty count 6-3.
“I changed the team this week and got a fair response,” Maguire said.
“The effort and how the boys worked hard for each other was what we needed.
“We’ve just got to learn how to do that for 80 now.
“If we put that effort in week in, week out … if we’d put that effort in last week (against the Gold Coast) it may have been a different result.”
Meanwhile, Canberra coach Ricky Stuart would have been happier with his team’s effort after he lambasted their schoolyard defending last week in their loss to Newcastle.
Emre Guler and Ryan Sutton both got through a ton of work off the bench, while Jordan Rapana pulled off a crucial try-saver on David Nofoaluma right on half time.
Wighton also looked dangerous in attack but for one ball that sailed over the sideline in Stuart’s 400th game as an NRL coach.
Their line was breached early when Curtis Scott fumbled a Josh Reynolds kick and Luke Brooks scored, but they otherwise withstood the Tigers’ pressure in the first half.
“We got back to some of the standards we have been working on and building on over the past 12 months,” Stuart said.
“We needed to be very resilient tonight, they threw a lot at us.
“They (the Raiders) dug very deep. Being down 4-0 and they stayed composed and controlled a good percentage of the game.
“Controlling it defensively was one of the telling factors at the end of it.”