WESTS finals hopes were dashed by Brothers in a heartbreaking 54-12 defeat.
The struggling Panthers were poised for finals selection after a burst of late season form with defeats of Bundaberg Rugby League heavyweights Easts Magpies and Isis Devils.
The last-minute finals bid came to a halt yesterday afternoon in a disappointing blow for coach Nathan Tanner.
“It’s something we wanted to achieve and it’s something the guys have worked hard for,” he said.
“We’ve come a long way this season and I would have liked the guys to be rewarded with some finals football but that’s the way it goes sometimes,” he said.
With front rower Leon Baldry, hooker Graham O’Shannesy and full back Nick Toovey absent from the line up, Wests were noticeably understaffed in the encounter.
Tries to Josh and Nicholas Tanner in the first half kept Wests in the game, leaving the halftime score at 20-12.
A Brothers outfit boosted by the return of star hooker Brent Kuskey was clearly dominant with constant attacking pressure putting Wests defenders in overdrive.
Wests forwards worked hard to gain ground and create scoring opportunities but a series of errors kept them well clear of the try line.
Tanner was critical of his team’s ball handling and passing during the game.
“We had a long line of opportunities, one after the other, but we blew it with dropped ball and forward passes,” he said.
“You can’t make mistakes like that against a team like Brothers and to their credit they made us pay.”
Wests will play its last game of the season against Hervey Bay at Salter Oval on Saturday.
Tanner said his team would be playing to ensure the team finishes on a high note.
“We’ve missed our chance in the finals but we’ll be working to ensure we win our last game,” he said.