“I changed the team this week and got a response,” Maguire said. “I will go back to the video and watch it exactly the same as I did last week. If I need to make adjustments, I will.”
Marshall watched from the sidelines. Also in the stands were Robert Jennings, Luke Garner, Billy Walters, Oliver Clark, members of the late great Arthur Summons’ family and the 120 Tigers corporate types permitted into Campbelltown Sports Ground.
For much of the proceedings, they would have liked what they saw. Maguire’s radical roster revamp elicited the response he was seeking. Harry Grant charged down one of the first Raiders kicks of the game. The Tigers controlled possession, as well as the Canberra attack when they didn’t have the ball. When a crunching tackle jolted the Steeden from Ryan Sutton’s grasp late in the opening stanza, Tigers ran from all parts of the field to yahoo and backslap.
The finishing touches, however, were lacking.
Josh Reynolds was brought into the side and his enthusiasm was infectious. Not for the first time this week, he has turned a negative into a positive. The beneficiary of the most unexpected sacking of the season, he wore the No.6 jersey that Marshall had made his own for the best part of two decades. It was his cross-field kick, bobbled by Curtis Scott, that set up the opening try, to halves partner Luke Brooks.
Again he demonstrated a rare ability to compartmentalise the non-football part of his life from the football bit. Whether he is being fleeced by a girlfriend with multiple aliases or registering a false positive to a roadside drug test, no baggage is brought onto the paddock. It remains to be seen whether he will get another go next week against the Cowboys.
History suggests making wholesale changes doesn’t usually work. Since 2010, when six or more players have been axed, the tactic has worked on just 26 of 39 occasions, for a win ratio of 40 per cent. Maguire must decide whether to swing the axe again.
Ricky Stuart has no such problems. He stuck with the core of the team that lost to Newcastle last week. They were scrappy, but did enough to escape with two competitions points in the coach’s 400th game in charge.
Russell Packer ran onto the footy field for the first time since last April. Subbed on midway through the second half, it wasn’t the comeback he had been dreaming about. The former Kiwi international was one of the Tigers defenders unable to stop Jack Wighton during his solo effort from 10 metres out. And then, just six minutes after coming on, he was marched to the sin bin for a professional foul.
When he returned he knocked out Jordan Rapana. And then Joseph Tapine. The latter hit resulted in him being placed on report. Packer’s cameo was 12 minutes of madness. That may be one less selection headache for Maguire.
“At the moment I’m trying to find the consistency I asked for last week,” Maguire said. “I will go back and watch the video. I thought everyone put in the effort today.
“That’s one thing I saw and that’s the response you get. I expect that off the back of a performance I thought was not acceptable for where we were at last week.
“The boys delivered that and now it’s about getting the moments right, to make sure you can play at this level week in and week out.
“It could have swung either way. Unfortunately, Russell got sent off their and we put pressure on ourselves.
“What I did see was the effort I ask from the players. If we do that continually, that’s where we want to take the club.”
The love affair that was ‘Leipana’ ended abruptly last season when both left the nation’s capital. With Rapana back in the lime green, he found himself up against Joey Leilua for the first time. Unfortunately, Rapana is unlikely to remember any of it after he was knocked out trying to tackle Packer.
Maguire, meanwhile, ponders who to give the nod to. So now we wait for Tuesday.
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.