Closing out games Eels' Achilles heel
After his team yet again failed to close out a game they were entitled to win after leading late, Eels coach Brad Arthur says that aspect of game management will be a huge focus for his side over the coming off-season.
Arthur added there was plenty to be optimistic about given not just the players who will be joining the club in 2016 but also the ones it already has who will be returning from injury.
"We got taught another tough lesson," a dejected Arthur said after Cronulla showed them exactly how to finish a game off in their 35-28 win at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
"We can't keep saying that we're trying hard and the effort's there cause it is but we have to learn how to manage a game, we have to learn how to win a game, control a game.
"We were in front by six with 10 minutes to go and go into a negative mindset but we have to learn and we have to learn fast.
"No one's having a shot as us about our effort, our effort's great, we played nice and positive when we were behind to get in front but when we were in front, we just have to learn how to win a game of football."
Arthur refused to blame the losses of both of his starting second-rowers to injury for the defeat.
Manu Ma'u, who came off inside 15 minutes with a shoulder injury, will need scans during the week, while the club is optimistic Tepai Moeroa, who was ruled out with concussion following a head clash early in the second half, would be ok to play next week.
"Losing two back-rowers makes it tough as well but it still that's not a reason why we can't close a game out," Arthur said.
But he added there were plenty of reasons for fans to be optimistic about the future based on what has happened this year, including the invaluable experience gained by the side's younger players.
"It's great, it's positive, we have some good players coming in 2016 but we've also got quite a few good players sitting on the sideline at the moment as well so it's encouraging," he said.
"What it's doing is teaching us some valuable lessons and getting some valuable experience into a lot of our young blokes.
"Sometimes the lessons that we learn and sometimes the errors we're making in a game defensively – those six tries we knew exactly what it was coming from and we got done six times on ties we saw coming all week.
"We've just got to learn from it because that's what costs you games of football."
Eels captain Tim Mannah said he thought the side was headed for a win when they hit the lead with 10 minutes to go.
"We did a good job to get it back and I thought we had it," Mannah said.
"To be six in front and leading the last 10 minutes, just the way we handled ourselves towards the back end of the game and closing a game out is something we can learn and become better at. I've got a lot of belief in what we have here, it's just tweaking it and getting better at it."