The Broncos’ late-season implosion ended on Saturday with coach Kevin Walters admitting his “season is over” after a 22-12 loss to the Dragons.
They needed to beat Brisbane to keep their season alive. They are now counting on the Tigers to put up 52 points on the Raiders on Sunday – a highly unlikely scenario.
Just five weeks ago they were sitting in the top four but after losing five of their six games they will end the year ninth. It was the latest in the NRL era for a team to miss out on a top four appearance.
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Walters admitted after the game that “it’s hurting just like the rest of us” and that players and staff alike “have to take a hard look at ourselves” after such a rapid decline.
“I was animated[in the shed]because I love these guys and our footy club so much,” he said.
“I want to drive these people to be better.
The season is over so words don’t mean too much now, we have to look after ourselves – staff and players – in the next couple of weeks and look forward to next season, that’s all we can do.
Walters believes there are “a few things” that sum up the last five weeks of the Broncos’ season and Saturday’s “disappointing” performance.
But what cost them against the Dragons were “stunted passes, push passes and a lack of discipline to control the ball”.
“We think we can score a couple of tries out of the half (against the Dragons). Five weeks ago we were scoring 90-100 yards,” Walter said.
“What is required is that we lacked effort and discipline in the last five weeks. We were in the first 20 weeks… but let it go.”
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However, he admits that most of the squad has not had the experience of being in the finals until this season – which could hurt them in these tie-breaks.
“It’s all new to most guys,” he said.
“Adam (Reynolds) and Curt (Capwell) played finals on their feet but a lot of our guys didn’t get a lot of experience at the end of the season and we didn’t really get it right so that’s where we are. I have to fix it.”
The Broncos finished with 13 wins and 11 losses.
It was also the first time the Broncos had advanced to the playoffs in three straight seasons.
“I’m still taking 13 wins as a stretch … but I thought we could do eight,” Walters said.
But if I sit down and take a good look in a few days, 13 wins is more than we had last year (seven).
“We’ve lost players this year who weren’t in our side last year so there are some positives around the club and the squad but we didn’t finish the season the way we wanted.”
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Club captain Reynolds admitted the result was “very disappointing” but the team’s discipline had been “very poor” over the past five weeks.
He also believes the Broncos lost their eight totals.
“It’s not a reflection of our season, our season is built on hard work … it was a waste at the end there,” Reynolds said.
Meanwhile, Patrick Carrigan, who returned from a four-week suspension on Saturday, said: “The fate is in our hands so we let it slide tonight.”