THE Singleton Roosters season ended in a heartbreaking loss to Newcastle City on the weekend.
Losing by just one goal, 60 to 54, the result has been a tough pill for the side to swallow considering scores were level at three quarter time.
Had the game gone a little longer, they may have fought their way back into it too, having kicked the final two goals of the match.
Player-coach Jed Ellis-Cluff said he was impressed with his team's effort considering they lost centre-half back Daltyn McCartney very early in the match with a knee injury, and were forced to put Josh Long back on the field despite suffering a knock to his shoulder.
Being a rotation down played a part against a fit side like Newcastle City, according to Ellis-Cluff, and he felt there's not much more they could have done, stating "we left everything out there".
"I couldn't be more proud of the boys and the way they stuck at it all day, there were a lot of times they could have thrown in the towel... but they just kept poking away at it," he said.
He will be thoroughly hoping that next year their best is enough to get past the semi-final stage, where they have now bowed out the past two seasons.
There were improvements in the home-and-away campaign in 2020 however, finishing in third, two positions higher than last year.
Their attack and defence numbers were also better on both ends, averaging 69.9 points for this year as opposed to 63.5 in 2019; while they were much better at the other end, conceding 67.2 in contrast to last season's 81.4.
Leading goalscorer Sam Brasington kicked 23 for the season, despite playing eight less matches than Andrew Scott bagged to claimed that title with the same tally last year. A man well accustomed to kicking goals, Travis Bates, will also need replacing next season as he and his family moves to Victor Harbour in South Australia.
But as pointed out by Ellis-Cluff, it may be his son Jesse who the club misses most. The youngster is one of the Rooster's best up-and-coming stars, and finding people who can not only play, but indeed star, in first grade at his age isn't easy.
The club is on the lookout of new additions though, and while the coach said it can be difficult to recruit in a one team town, there are pathways to finding new quality players.
"There's probably a couple of local boys we'll be chasing to try and get them back in," he said.
"There were a couple of blokes who missed out injured, and I think you always get a couple from the army too although it's a bit too early to know."
Whoever joins will be expected to adopt the 'never say die' attitude and physical game style, which got them as far as they did this year.
With the late end to the season, he said preseason is unlikely to officially begin until after Christmas.