ZAC Merritt had praised the defensive attitude of his St Pat's side leading up to Saturday's Peter McDonald Premiership elimination final, and outside of just two mistakes on their own try line the Saints defensive effort in defence was once again top notch.
Except sometimes all it takes is just two mistakes for everything to come undone.
The Saints' inaugural Peter McDonald Premiership finals campaign came to an end at Jack Arrow Sporting Complex on Saturday following a heart breaking 12-11 loss to the Parkes Spaceman in muddy and slow conditions at the Bathurst ground.
As expected in such conditions, the game was fought mainly through the middle of the park in an intense battle between the forwards, and any quick play towards the sidelines carried plenty of risk.
Pat's had gone into the break up 7-0 after a bruising first half, which ended with a Blake Fitzpatrick field goal, but once the Spacemen held the ball and kept things simple they started to make inroads.
Semi Vakatalai scored a converted try to get the Spacemen within reach but an unconverted Tye Siakisoni try extended the Saints' lead back out to five.
Sam Dwyer and Chad Porter became the heroes for the visitors when, with just five minutes to go, the former found space to score out of dummy half and the latter provided the vital conversion.
Merritt said it was a tough way to watch the season come to an end but he and his team are doing their best to keep their heads high after making their return to finals football.
"We've been in every game we've played this year but at times we've just turned off and I think that comes with learning how to win. It's back to the drawing board but I'm super proud of the boys," he said.
"I'm especially proud of the way they've backed themselves this year. We've got some great kids coming through so we'll turn around next year and go again.
"I said to the boys that, yes, it's unfortunate that we lost but it's a great culture building thing for us to be back in the semis and also for the club to have three grades playing finals football.
"It's disappointing to not go through, because we know we've got a team that could have made a deep run, but it wasn't to be."
Spacemen player-coach Jack Creith applauded his side's ability to learn from their mistakes.
"She's an easy game that we all make harder for ourselves," he said.
"Nothing about that game was easy though. It just didn't stop until that last try. Everyone was still chasing all the way to end.
"These were bad conditions, but they were bad for Bathurst as well. I just never felt comfortable in this one right until the end.
"We were still confident that we could score points, we just needed to get the ball down their end. No-one was running 50 or 60 metres to score in this one.
"There were a couple of times that we got a long kick in and then we forced an error off a big tackle and that's what got everyone really pumped up."
The match was scoreless for the first 26 minutes but both sides had their chances to break the deadlock before then.
Parkes almost scored just six minutes into the game when Brandon Tago found a gap through the centre of the park to nearly set up Joe Dwyer for a try, but he was tackled just shy of the try line.
Pat's soon enjoyed a full set just 10m out from the Spacemen try line but they would cough up the ball on the last tackle.
Tikiko Rokodelana nearly barged across the Saints' try line on two occasions before the 12th minute, with the hosts needing plenty of stopping power to keep him just inches short of his target.
Errors continued to plague both teams as the wet ball and the slippery turf made building momentum difficult.
It took a successful 40-20 attempt from Hayden Bolam to give St Pat's their breakthrough moment.
On the back of that kick Pat's continued to work the ball through the middle of the park and that's where Nik Booth would find the opening points, diving across between the uprights.
Beattie added the extras.
Parkes invited pressure on themselves over the last 10 minutes of the half through errors and penalties.
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Two minutes out from half-time Bolam almost dropped the ball 20 metres out from the Spacemen try line but managed to get a boot to ball to get a kick away and force a drop out.
From the following set Fitzpatrick was able to slot home a low-flying field goal effort on the siren.
Pat's had a big scare at the resumption of play when a dropped torpedo at the end of Parkes' first set gave the visitors a great chance to score.
The blue and whites were able to escape that situation thanks to a Spacemen error just short of the try line, and a penalty against Parkes for a strip got Pat's out of trouble.
Pat's made several more errors deep inside their own territory before the hour mark, and they eventually suffered the consequences for that in the 55th minute.
Parkes' Semi Vakatalai timed his jump to perfection to latch onto the end of a crossfield kick and get his team on the board. Porter converted.
Ten minutes later Pat's scored what they hoped would be the winning try when the team shifted play to the right edge on the fifth tackle and Tye Siakisoni found enough space to get across.
But Parkes found a way back into the game at the perfect moment went Sam Dwyer spotted a rare gap in the Pat's defence and dived across from dummy half for the easiest try of the day.
Porter's two points put his team in front for the first time, at the right time.
PARKES SPACEMEN 12 (Semi Vakatalai, Sam Dwyer tries; Chad Porter 2 conversions) defeated ST PAT'S 11 (Nik Booth, Tye Siakisoni tries; Matt Beattie conversion; Blake Fitzpatrick field goal)
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