Press Conference: NRL Round 21
Wests Tigers Coach Ivan Cleary said his side simply did enough to win as they survived a late comeback from the Newcastle Knights to emerge with a 25-16 victory.
Leading by 18 points and seemingly destined for more points as Corey Thompson went over — only to be denied by the Bunker — Cleary and Wests Tigers soon found themselves on the back foot as Kalyn Ponga tried to inspire the Knights to a second half comeback and break the visitors' strong lead.
In the end, his side did enough to get the two points and keep their finals hopes alive for another week, and that was all that worried the Coach most as he reflected on an important night at the office.
"I was pretty happy overall," Cleary told reporters after the game at McDonald Jones Stadium.
"I thought our first half was solid — we controlled the ball, kicked well and our defence was solid.
2018 Match Highlights: Rd.21, Knights vs. Wests Tigers
"It was hard with Corey Thompson and Benji Marshall injured and we had to try and change things around on the run but it was just one of those games in that sense and we had to handle that.
"We lead the league for the least amount of penalties in the second half and couldn't get one tonight.
"They controlled the ball really well but in the end we defended what we needed to get the job done. We made it harder than it should have been in the second half but we got the win and that's the main thing."
Cleary was full of praise for halfback Luke Brooks, who continued his good record against the Knights at home with a try, try assist, seven tackle breaks and a crucial field goal with time winding down.
"Brooksy was really good," he enthused.
"He ran the ball whenever he could, and whenever he did that, something good seemed to happen.
"That's his strength — he's had a really good season and he's progressing nicely.
"I thought he was key to our victory."
While pleased to see the gap to the eighth-placed Warriors temporarily bridged to just two points, Cleary was also wary of the tough assignment that was ahead of them next weekend in the nation's capital.
"We need to step it up again and play Canberra next week," he said.
"They're a big, tough, physical side and it was probably our worst performance of the year when we played them previously so we've got do to better in that game and better every week."
See what Ivan Cleary and co-captain Elijah Taylor had to say about this week's game in the video above!