Now their finals dream has vanished, Todd Payten doesn’t want his players to drop their heads too far but keep churning out the type of performances which have added prestige to the Warriors brand.
Without going over all the sacrifices the entire squad has made, the interim coach said his message in the dressing sheds, after Sunday night's 22-14 loss to the Sharks, was a simple one.
He spoke with the players about keeping their heads up and reminded them of how far they had come since their previous trip to Kogarah when he took over in round seven, a 50-6 hiding from the Storm.
"I questioned the players commitment, their toughness, their care for the jersey… apart from the that one game between then and now, which was also the Sharks [a 46-10 loss in round 10], we’ve turned that around and become a team that is tough and committed.
"I am proud to coach them. We have a couple of weeks left where we have to make sure we don’t do away with all the good work we’ve done up until now."
He said the Raiders next Saturday would bring challenges through the middle after a long day of travel. Their final match of 2020 would be against Manly back in Gosford but with the Sea Eagles rejuvenated by Tom Troboejvic’s return.
Match Highlights: Sharks v Warriors
But Payten is confident his team can finish on a good note.
"I’m very proud of this organisation. I feel like we’ve become a team over the past eight weeks and it showed in the way that we played – and it’s not just me, it’s all the staff doing their job and the players living up to their end of the bargain with performances that we should be proud of as a club," he said.
"It didn’t work out the way we wanted but we got ourselves into this position and in finals contention by backing ourselves. We lived and died by that."
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Looking at the match stats does bring a scratch-your-head moment for the Warriors. They had more tackle busts, more metres, made more runs, and missed less tackles than the Sharks, and still lost.
The key to that was the 9-6 penalty count against the Warriors and the 10 handling errors, although to be fair the Sharks also made 10.
"We probably got what we deserved," Payten said.
But the challenge now was to keep spirits high and Payten praised his international prop Adam Blair for leading the way on that front.
"Adam has had a really tough couple of days with his grandmother passing away," Payten said.
"Him having to deal with that and obviously not being able to go home, and she played an important part in his life, was hard.
"But the way he’s handled the last two days around the group for himself, his teammates and his family has been incredible.
"He’s a good person, a great father and a better teammate."