Sydney Roosters ran out of puff while chasing an NRL three-peat, with their dreams of history snuffed out in their third straight loss on Friday night.
A 22-18 defeat to Canberra at the SCG ended their season after conceding 89 points in the fortnight before.
Uncharacteristic defensive errors cost the Roosters as they were ambushed by a side that simply wanted it more.
It is the first time since 2017 they haven’t been the last team standing – a year that kick-started their incredible run over the past two-and-a-half seasons.
Since they began pre-season that November, Trent Robinson’s men have been the most dominant team in the competition.
That energy is inconceivable to maintain for three years.
After they beat Melbourne 21-6 in the 2018 grand final, many believed it was impossible to defend the title in 2019.
Feeding off the doubt, the Roosters had the mental resilience and physical ability to do what had not been achieved since 1992-93, beating the Raiders 14-8 in last year’s decider.
And while Robinson and his players have avoided the term ‘three-peat’ this season, there is no doubt another premiership was front of their motivations.
They started the season with two losses, but after the COVID-19 break they rivalled Penrith as the most in-form team in the competition despite a hefty injury toll.
However, two straight losses to South Sydney and Penrith in the qualifier made for a rocky lead in to Friday night’s semi-final.
Warning bells sounded with a 60-8 loss to the Rabbitohs in the final round of the regular season.
After the loss experts questioned how much was left in the tank to chase a third title, and while they went down fighting on Friday night, the answer was: not enough.