THIS time during the past four years, the Queanbeyan Kangaroos have been drowned in the sense of winning the Canberra Raiders Cup premiership, and have been overwhelmed by competition favouritism.
But this season there is a changed mood for the men from west Queanbeyan, after they missed the grand final for the first time since 2009, going down to the Goulburn Workers Bulldogs 32-22 in their preliminary final at Seiffert Oval last Sunday.
Even more notable is the fact they will not feature any teams across all senior grades for the first time since 2009 on grand final day, after playing in each of the under 18s, reserve grade and first grade grand finals last season.
But Kangaroos coach Aaron Gorrell slammed some controversial refereeing decisions during the match against Goulburn, and said he was not so disappointed with the side given they had still had a good season to date.
"To the boys credit, they got themselves back in the game...We had all the momentum [in the second half], we were all over them, and the referee calls play on when I'm still on the ground injured," said Gorrell.
"It's still falling short though. We're not in the competition just to make up the numbers, but we think we're the best side in the competition. We just had three bad halves to finish the year."
While some decisions halted the Kangaroos momentum in the second half, an inspired defensive effort from Goulburn earned them a 20-6 lead at half time, which proved the difference in the match.
This sparked Gorrell to put his boots on for just the fourth time this season in a desperate effort to get his side back in the game, which worked when he set up two tries to bring the margin back to just two points.
But retiring centre Daniel Watt, who scored a double in the match, said missed tackles in the game cost them in the end.
"It's my sixth year at the club, and this would've been my fifth grand final," he said.
"We've been the benchmark side for the last five years, but we've just got to get over that, and look forward to a good off-season."
At 33 years of age, Watt called time on his career, after deciding against doing so after last season's grand final.