Roosters reflect on positive season
They might have been knocked out in the preliminary final for the third time in four years but Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson is exceptionally proud of his players after they bounced back from last year's challenging season to get within one win of a place in the Telstra Premiership grand final.
Having finished 15th in the 2016 regular season, the Tricolours shook off the pain to finish 2017 in second place and were strong favourites to reach the final game of the season, only to be humbled by the red-hot Cowboys 29-16 on Saturday night.
In the end it was their poor completion rate that cost them with the Roosters getting through just 68 per cent of their sets while North Queensland completed 90 per cent of theirs to choke the Sydneysiders out of the contest.
"It was devastating to lose that game. To get into a grand final is a pretty big prize and we weren't good enough," Robinson said after the game.
"If you're going to have those errors that we had, you better be defending well. It was a good arm wrestle there and then the errors that we did concede, we didn’t defend well enough and that's what it ended up being in the second half.
"We had some in the first half but we managed to control that enough to be 8-6 [down] at half-time but in the second half, those errors…each time we got in front we were behind pretty quickly."
Errors were the biggest issue for the Roosters in 2017 with Robinson's men averaging 11.6 mistakes - more than any other team - per game.
Blake Ferguson came up with a couple of loose carries coming out of trouble while youngster Latrell Mitchell sent two kick-offs out on the full to gift their opponents quality field position.
While it would be easy to focus on the negatives, Robinson was quick to remind everyone about how much his side had achieved in 2017.
"It was a really good year…it was a great year," he said.
"You got to see 26 games, but we got to live the whole lot in between those and it was a really good year.
"It was an enjoyable year, we developed some players from last year and then we got ourselves into a position [to do something special] so it's heartbreaking.
"It's hard because if you said at the start of the year that you'd get to the third week of the finals, it would have been pretty exciting, but now you're sitting in the third week of the finals and you're bitterly disappointed."
Roosters co-captain Jake Friend was proud of his teammates' effort this season but lamented their inability to hold onto the ball in the key moments of Saturday's preliminary final.
"It's disappointing at the moment, we're so close and I thought we had so many periods there where we were going tit-for-tat but we just couldn't build the pressure when we got in front," he said.
"An error into a bad defensive set and the Cowboys were too good for us.
"As Trent said, it's probably hard to take too much from the season, but there's plenty of good stuff there that we can definitely use and build on."