Sione Mata'utia says it left him devastated. Mitch Barnett took it just as hard.
Both say the feeling of again falling short in their bid to play finals footy for the first time will be a huge motivating factor in 2020 as the Knights prepare to enter a new era under rookie coach Adam O'Brien.
"You don't want to feel like that again," Barnett says as the Knights prepare for Sunday's final round "dead rubber" against the Panthers at Penrith Stadium.
"It's very tough, especially [looking back to] mid-season when we were flying. It sunk in after that Tigers game that we possibly weren't going to play semis and it was very disappointing. I took it pretty hard to be honest. I know a lot of the boys did.
"We all thought we'd do a lot better. We didn't purposely go out there and not perform well but it is what it is and it's more motivation heading into this weekend and next year."
For Mata'utia, it's his sixth straight season since debuting in the NRL in 2014 without featuring in the big end of season games. What makes it more difficult to digest this year was his own expectations when the current campaign kicked off.
"I was definitely one of those guys at the start of the year thinking that we've got a good shot and it was going to be my first crack at finals footy," he said.
"So I was devastated. But in saying that, there's been a lot of positives throughout the year. It's the first time I've been a part of a team where we've had so many rep players which was pretty cool to see.
"This is as close as I've ever got and it's a very addictive type of competitiveness. Three games out, we were pretty close on making it and it was on us [that we didn't]. We'll be better for the past and what we have been through."
While the Panthers, who are also out of finals contention, will be looking to send James Maloney out a winner with the veteran playmaker quitting the NRL to head to France and Super League club Catalans next season, the Knights will have to get themselves up with not a lot at stake.
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But both Mata'utia and Barnett claimed there is still something to play for.
"We have spoken about finishing as high as we can and finishing the year on a positive," Mata'utia said.
"You put on that jersey and play with your heart. This week's all about the love of footy and finishing as high as we can. If we win this week, we could possibly finish in ninth. That's enough motivation."
Barnett added: "All the boys have still got their heads on and we know we have another job to do.
"We are going to have to show up with the same attitude we had last week and tidy up one or two keys areas in defence. If we do that, we'll give ourselves the best shot.
"Our fans deserve a strong finish to the year and that's what we intend on giving them.
"Our fans have put up with the most out of anyone in the comp so that's my personal motivation and I know it's a lot of the boys' motivation."
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