After being blown off the park by a Cowboys side high on emotion at farewelling Johnathan Thurston, the Parramatta Eels cut lonely figures as reality hit that the 2018 wooden spoon is most likely theirs.
Sitting in 15th spot before kick-off, the heavy 44-6 loss means the Eels not only dropped back to 16th but they will have to win their last Telstra Premiership season game against the Roosters by a huge margin.
The Roosters are one of three sides vying for the minor premiership, and even if the Eels did win, their points differential is still 52 behind the Manly Sea Eagles - now in 15th.
Coincidently it was Manly who handed the eels their worst defeat this year with a 54-0 tumbing in round two. Friday night's 38-point loss at 1300Smiles Stadium was their second worst.
The Eels' statistics speak for themselves. They could only muster 36 percent of possession, ran for almost 900 metres less than the Cowboys, made one line break to the home side's eight, made 300 less post-contact metres, missed 32 tackles, and conceded 11 penalties.
Match Highlights: Cowboys v Eels - Round 24, 2018
Coach Brad Arthur slammed his side's performance in no uncertain terms.
"It's embarrassing the score line, but we've got to deal with it, we've got to move on," Arthur said.
"They were just way too good for us tonight.
"With the weight of possession we just couldn't handle them, they just steamrolled us."
When asked if he thought his side deserved the wooden spoon, Arthur backed his side's resolve, but couldn't justify the results.
The Eels have only one six matches from 23 but have lost the same number by a converted try or less.
"Results determine that, so that's where we are," Arthur said.
"I think we've tried hard enough, we just haven't been able to get it right. The last two months the boys haven't gone away and there were plenty of reasons why we knew we were going to be up against it tonight."
Arthur broke into a wry smile thinking of how the end of the game was probably the Eels strongest passage.
"The last 20-odd minutes or so we finished Okay - at least we didn't concede any late tries," he said.