They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and for Kevin Naiqama, that’s exactly what the focus is this week as his side prepares to get back in the winners circle against the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium on Easter Monday.
After leading 24-6 against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in Round 4, Naiqama watched as his side allowed the Bulldogs back into the match in the final 20 minutes, and as Moses Mbye stole a 25-24 victory in Golden Point with a field goal.
He’d watched a similar thing happen the week before where, after leading 6-0 late in the first half, Wests Tigers conceded two late tries in the half to go down 10-6 to the South Sydney Rabbitohs at the break, and then again at the end to eventually lose 20-6.
And while there’s no hiding the disappointment with last week’s loss and even that the week before it, the Fijian international is adamant there’s growth to be had in defeat.
“It’s obviously disappointing to lose last week like we did,” reflected Naiqama.
“We had the game won but in the last 20 minutes but we shot ourselves in the foot with too much dropped ball and let them back into the game, really.
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“It’s obviously bad that we did lose but, in a way, it’s good that it hurt.
“That loss burns inside you and it makes you want to train harder for the week ahead.
“You don’t want to feel that feeling anymore so you do everything you can to avoid it.
“In Round 1 we were on the other side of that feeling and it was awesome, and being on the other side last week, you obviously take a lot out of it.”
“We did lose, but we’re not going to put our heads down about it. It’s back to the drawing board for us and making sure that we’re ready to go come Monday.”
Part of what features on that drawing board will no doubt be about execution — something Wests Tigers struggled to do late against the Bulldogs last week, but managed to do very well when they met the Eels on Easter Monday last year.
On that occasion, after seeing the hosts lock the scores up at 18-18 with just five minutes remaining, Luke Brooks nailed a 30m field goal to break the deadlock, before Pat Richards added a 50m penalty goal in the final minute to record a 21-18 win.
And with both of those players set to take the field again on Easter Monday in 2015 — along with the experience of Robbie Farah, who was missing from last year’s clash against the Eels — Jason Taylor will be hoping his side finish the better at the death.
“I think [from that loss] you learn more how to control the game,” said Naiqama.
“We were in front and we let it slip away, so we learned lots about controlling the game and composure at the end. We needed to just finish the game on a high note, but instead we dropped a lot of ball in the second half, which is what let them back into it.
“The focus this week will be executing and playing well. We’ve got a long turnaround now so hopefully we can put that into practice throughout this week.
Wests Tigers will look to bounce back from a last start defeat when they take on the Parramatta Eels in Round 5 at ANZ Stadium on Easter Monday, with kickoff at 3:00pm.
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