It was a bridge too far for the Canberra Raiders. A long, tough year finally took its toll.
Unfortunately, they saved their worst game for their last against a ferocious Melbourne Storm, going down 30-10 at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
The Raiders struggled from the start, as did the stadium - which was forced to issue a statement of apology to the thousands of fans stranded outside at kick off due to a "national outage" with their ticketing system.
They battled against an exhausting travel schedule and a bag of injuries, with the Queensland government hotel debacle just another hurdle.
It means the Raiders have fallen one game shorter than last year - going down in the grand final qualifier - and they've still only won once at Suncorp since 2004..
It also signalled the final game for Raiders second-rower John Bateman and winger Nick Cotric, who are off to Wigan and Canterbury respectively.
Storm centre Brenko Lee faces a nervous wait to for the match review committee after the former Raider was put on report for a high shot on Canberra winger Semi Valemei.
The Raiders have struggled with their starts all season and it's an understatement to say they didn't start well in this one. It was disastrous.
They found themselves struggling to cope with a ferocious Storm and let in three tries inside the opening 10 minutes.
It would've been comical if it wasn't the second-most-important game of the year.
The Storm exploited the Raiders right edge before coming back to a stretched middle for Jesse Bromwich to crash over for the opener after just five minutes.
Their middles were running rampant and enjoyed 66 per cent possession in the opening half.
They looked fresh after having two weeks off in the past month and they were sharp too. Not a hint of rust.
Melbourne fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen got on the end of a Josh Addo-Carr break, again down the Canberra right - almost from the restart.
Then winger Suliasi Vunivalu crossed after Raiders winger Semi Valemei - who struggled with the high ball in the opening 40 minutes, but was much better in the second stanza when he attacked the football - knocked on a Jahrome Hughes bomb.
Vunivalu faked a kick, brushed off a couple of Raiders and simply scored himself. Comical.
Storm centre Justin Olam capitalised on a Nick Cotric mistake, after he failed to deal with a Papenhuyzen grubber and it was 24-0 with the home side going at a point a minute.
It could've been worse if the bunker somehow found Addo-Carr had failed to ground a Hughes kick in behind that caught out Cotric.
This Raiders side might not get everything right, but one thing they can't be accused of is throwing in the towel - no matter how far they're behind on the scoreboard.
Corey Harawira-Naera was stopped centimetres short and then Cotric scored a great individual try.
He took a George Williams kick and then beat several Storm players to give a glimmer of hope.
Cotric was temporarily playing at fullback with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad off getting a head knock checked and cleared.
No doubt fired by a Ricky Stuart rocket, the Raiders flew out of the sheds and forced a Storm goal-line dropout from the restart.
But they weren't able to take advantage of the opportunity and then settled into the grind.
It would be the story of the second half - missed opportunities.
Bateman was unable to take advantage of an overlap and then Cotric lost the ball just short of the line after a brilliant Williams cutout pass.
When Storm lock Dale Finucane scored off a kick in his return from a calf injury, ending the game as a contest.
Cotric crossed for his second of the night from another brilliant Williams pass.
AT A GLANCE
MELBOURNE STORM 30 (Jesse Bromwich, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Suliasi Vunivalu, Justin Olam, Dale Finucane tries; Cameron Smith 5 goals) bt CANBERRA RAIDERS 10 (Nick Cotric 2 tries; Jarrod Croker goal) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Ashley Klein. Crowd: 37,112.