A season that promised so much for the Newcastle Knights ended in disappointment - and drama - after a 28-20 loss to Parramatta in an epic elimination final at Brown Park in Rockhampton on Sunday.
It was the second straight year the Knights have fallen in the first week of the finals.
But it came after a hell of a fight. And a large dose of controversy.
With time almost up and the Knights down 22-20, Parramatta were awarded a penalty try after Enari Tuala impeded Parramatta centre Will Penisini as he ran through to ground a Clint Gutherson grubber kick.
Replays suggested that the ball had touched the ground before the boot of Gutherson.
However, the match officials ruled differently.
It was among a host of calls, most 50-50, against the Knights.
Parramatta now face Penrith in a another sudden-death showdown in Mackay on Saturday night.
The Knights were bundled out at the same point last season, overpowered 46-20 by South Sydney.
Again Adam O'Brien's men were written off as finals fodder, but they produced a courageous display to almost snatch a famous win.
After leading 4-0 inside 90 seconds, the Knights leaked two tries just before the break and one within two minutes of the restart to trail 22-10.
But, showing new-found resilience, they found a way back.
Jake Clifford kicked for Tuala to grab his second try in the 53rd minute. Four minutes later Kalyn Ponga fired a double cutout pass for the winger's third.
But there would be no miracle.
The deflating loss spelt the end for departing duo Connor Watson and Josh King.