IT was an emotional day and a tough result to take for Queanbeyan Whites skipper Dan Penca, but a Herculean effort saw him become just the second man to claim the John I Dent Cup man-of-the-match award in a losing team.
And while his men's 25-13 grand final loss to the Tuggeranong Vikings made it bitter-sweet for the 26-year old, who was out to break the club's four year premiership drought, there is little doubt it was well earned.
If ACT Brumbies Whites contracted player Robbie Coleman had not played, Penca would have been the last man standing from the club's last title in 2010, and there has been no other Whites player that has worked as hard for the club since then.
His performance last Saturday against Tuggeranong at Viking Park was inspirational to say the least. While he did not score a hat-trick of tries like Viking Nigel Ah Wong did, he led right from the front of Queanbeyan's forward pack.
Like a terrier, he ran everywhere around the field, and was involved in just about every play. He made most of his side's tackles, and made two line breaks that could easily have lead to match-winning tries.
But in spite of his efforts, he said all he wanted was another John I Dent Cup, and his own award could not make up for that.
"We came here for the John I Dent Cup. We play a team game," said Penca.
"They don't come around very often, and when you've got an opportunity you've got to take it, and we didn't."
"These individual accolades are great, but they mean nothing when your team goes down. We play a team sport, and like I said, we came here for the John I Dent, so I'm really disappointed to be honest."
He said he was also disappointed for coach Adam Fahey, who was going for his first premiership as a coach.
"Fahey's been unbelievable for us. Where he's come from and how he's blossomed as a coach; this is a learning curve for him as well."
Penca said he was still keen to captain the side he said he was proud to do so.