Macquarie co-captain-coach Alex Ronayne felt the need to apologise to his club on Sunday after the Raiders' hugely disappointing Peter McDonald Premiership campaign came to an end.
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Macquarie was already guaranteed to miss the Peter McDonald Premiership finals ahead of the final round and a 24-22 loss to Wellington summed up the side's season in a lot of ways.
It was not how the Raiders envisioned the season ending after an off-season which included the homecoming of Jack Kavanagh to lead the team alongside Ronayne and marquee signings like Billy Gilbert from Newcastle.
Injuries and suspension cruelled Macquarie during the season but worse was their inability to produce 80-minute performances and win the close matches.
Sunday's defeat to Wellington was the side's fourth loss of the season by just two points while there was also a draw with Forbes early in the season.
"It's been tough. Really tough," Ronayne said of the campaign.
"There's been suspensions and injuries but the boys have dug in this year and there was always boys turning up to training.
"I feel like we've let the club and supporters down a little bit and a big thanks goes to them. We'll just regroup for next year."
It's been a frustrating run for the Macquarie club, with the first grade premiership drought running back to 2012.
The side hasn't played in a decider since then while last season they were knocked out by Bathurst Panthers in week one of the finals.
"It's one thing everyone wants to do, playing finals. It's tough not playing finals and it's disappointing for me," Ronayne said.
"I owed it to the club and I'm sorry for that."
Kavanagh was suspended twice during the regular season while back-rower Jordan Reynolds missed the final round after a high shot at Parkes a week prior.
Kane McDermott, Colt Ure, Josh Nixon and Clayton Daley all spent significant periods out due to injury while there were plenty of other niggles to deal with.
There was more of the same on Sunday as winger CJ Ralph failed to finish the match due to a knee injury suffered not long after scoring a try which got his side back within two of the Cowboys.
That try gave the Raiders faithful some hope of finishing the year on a high but a well-weighted Jai Merritt grubber resulted in a Cowboys try to Timmy Boney-Stewart and Blake Ferguson's conversion made it an eight-point lead with 10 minutes remaining.
Macquarie got one try back with two minutes to go to make it 24-22 but that was how it finished.
"It's what we've been lacking all year, playing for the 80," Ronayne said.
"But at the end of the day there is a bit of relief. The season is done and we'll work on plans for next year.
"I think we were close this year so we'll just try and go again.
"A lot of boys played first grade and a lot of young boys came up and did a job so there were positives but it was very hard this year."
Macquarie will still have its league and reserve grade sides play finals this year.
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