Pass mark: Unlucky 13 would put Tigers in rare company

Any other NRL season and the Wests Tigers bus rolls right into September.

Ivan Cleary's Tigers are desperate to post their 13th win of the season against South Sydney on Thursday night to cap a year most in the game never envisaged.

Nobody's bunny: Moses Mbye gets in on the action against the Rabbitohs.

Nobody’s bunny: Moses Mbye gets in on the action against the Rabbitohs.

Since the NRL kicked off in 1998, only Canberra in 1999 have won 13 games and failed to make the finals.

When Mad Monday officially starts on Friday for the Tigers, you have to wonder if the players will be elated or deflated with the season.

The Tigers again upset competition heavyweights like Melbourne – twice – the Sydney Roosters and Souths, but lost to Parramatta, Canterbury, Newcastle and the Gold Coast.

They were dudded by referee Ashley Klein in round three when a player was pinged for not being square at marker and the Broncos slotted a winning penalty goal.

And one-eyed Tigers fans will recall Shaun Kenny-Dowall knocking on while playing the ball only for the Knights to receive the penalty, march downfield and score to snatch victory in round seven.

Tigers co-captain Chris Lawrence said on Tuesday that this season would be judged a pass or fail based on how they performed against their literal Bunnies at ANZ Stadium.

The Tigers have won five of their last six against Souths. Cody Walker used the term ''choas football'' when describing the Tigers' unpredictable attack.

Victory will take the Tigers  to 13 wins against 11 losses. However, it will be the seventh straight season without finals.

"A win this weekend won't get us in the top eight, which is disappointing, but we'll finish with that winning record and shown we've come a long way as a team the last couple of years," Lawrence said.

"We can beat those better teams but, unfortunately, we've had some of our worst performances against those sides sitting below us on the ladder.

"Everyone has worked hard since day one of pre-season training. Spots were up for grabs, Ivan and his coaching staff set some standards and are trying to build a new culture, and the players have bought into it and are driving that. That's what I'm most proud of. It was just our poor middle part of the year that cost us.''

Benji Marshall more than held his own in his comeback, which might yet roll on one more year, while the mid-season return of Robbie Farah and signing of Moses Mbye added some class to the pack.

Alex Twal's highlight will be his 60m gallop to set up Mbye for a try against Manly last weekend.

The young prop  put a fend on Sea Eagles star Tom Trbojevic before he raced downfield and waited until the death to pass the ball inside for Mbye.

Twal was looking forward to the final challenge against Souths giant pack.

"I maybe ran that far back in the under-8s or under-9s,'' Twal said of his lengthy run.

"It will probably be my one and only run like that for the next ten years.

"We came into this year with no expectations, so to finish ninth, there's a lot to look forward to if you're a Tigers fan.

"We've made some tremendous strides the past 12 months. I think we're coming together and becoming who we are as a club. We'd like to finish our season on a high.''

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