The Penrith Panthers bowed out of the 2016 NRL premiership after a 22-12 loss to the Canberra Raiders.
The Raiders controlled the early stages of the game but only held a 6-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Although the Panthers began to gain some field position, poor last tackle options and costly errors dashed the visitors’ hopes before tries either side of half time gave the Raiders an 18-0 lead in front of the Canberra crowd.
Coach Anthony Griffin said it was a disappointing way to end the season.
“You never like to saying it but we beat ourselves tonight,” Griffin said.
“It really hurts; the players are hurting and unfortunately we put ourselves in that position.”
Captain Matt Moylan injected life into the Panthers’ hopes with a quarter of the match remaining, throwing a long cutout pass to find Tyrone Peachey unmarked on the wing.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak slashed the lead to just six minutes later, diving over in the corner after cleaning up a sloppy last tackle play.
However, two late penalty goals sealed the Panthers’ fate, sending the side crashing out of the finals.
A disappointed Panthers captain Matt Moylan said the team is moving in “the right direction”, having matured throughout the season.
“I think with the players coming through, everyone’s confident,” Moylan said.
“It’s a step forward but we’re going to have to work hard in the off-season and use this as motivation to get back to the finals and play the footy we want to play.”