Cleary: "We let them off"
Press Conference: NRL Round 13

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Wests Tigers Head Coach Ivan Cleary was left to reflect on "one that got away" as his side suffered a hard-fought 16-14 defeat to the Sydney Roosters.

Behind for the entire second half, Cleary's men looked to have pulled something from the fire when Josh Reynolds crashed over late, but couldn't find the final blow to put the Roosters to bed — allowing the home side to hang on for a two-point win that could have easily gone the way of the visitors.

For Cleary, while proud of the resilient effort, it was simply what could have been.

"Of course, I think a real positive about our team is that we never give up," he reflected.

"But the negatives today: we put ourselves in a position where we had to come from behind and try and stage a big comeback at the end and we just couldn't quite get it done in the chaos.

"Both sides were going hammer and tong trying to get the win, and it was just crazy.

"The first 60 minutes, I thought we just let them off.

"We controlled the game really nicely at the start, but we came up with poor errors at the wrong time.

"We didn't cash in on the field position and possession and the game's over and it's one that got away.

"The Roosters need some credit, and they scrambled well at the end," he added.

"But we had chances and came up with really poor errors at the wrong time."

While let down by a number of missed opportunities in attack, Cleary said the manner in which the side defended highlighted just how far the team had come in 2018.

"I think it's important to note that we started this season and as a rebuild and we're trying hard to change the view of what Wests Tigers are as a team," Cleary said.

"I think it'd be fair to say that in the club's history, defence hasn't been the identity of the team.

"If you're going to be any sort of a team, your defence has to be strong, and it's turned out this year as a real foundation of what we've done.

"I don't think anyone expected — or they shouldn't have expected — us to walk in and be able to do everything and that's certainly not the case for us. We're still working away at it.

"I'm not even sure what our best 17 is yet and it's still definitely a work in progress.

"But we shouldn't be turning over the ball too easily — we've got to be better than things like that."

See what Coach Ivan Cleary and co-captain Elijah Taylor had to say about the game in the video above!