Albury Thunder's hopes of carrying winning form into next week's finals were decimated by a Wagga Kangaroos' blitz on Saturday.
The visitors couldn't move from fourth spot heading into the game and they played accordingly with the Roos handing out a 40-16 hiding.
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The Wagga outfit, which couldn't qualify for finals, led 28-0 at half-time.
"I think that's the key word, enthusiasm," coach Adrian Purtell said.
"They out-enthused us early on, we didn't aim up defensively and they got on a good roll.
"We just weren't at the races to start off with and maybe we fell into that trap of looking ahead to next week."
Given Thunder has played finals just once since the last of its three straight titles in 2014, it's not surprising the players were looking at the bigger picture.
And they can take heart from the fact that in last year's final round, the side hammered finals-bound Gundagai.
The Tigers were able to overcome that loss and claimed the premiership.
This year's top three - Gundagai, Southcity and Tumut - have consistently proven the group is a step ahead, but Thunder has the potential to do some damage in the coming weeks.
However, Wagga Brothers will be tremendously hard to beat in Saturday's elimination final at Albury's Greenfield Park as they're coming off a 26-18 win over Southcity.
Brothers have now won 10 of their last 13, so you could make a strong argument they will start favourites, but the home ground advantage is a massive boost to Thunder's hopes.
After Kangaroos' onslaught, the visitors scored the first three tries of the second half to cut the margin to 12 points.
However, a mistake from the second tackle after the re-start torpedoed hopes of a further comeback with the home side rattling on two more tries.
It was hard to find too many good players for Thunder, although prop Brad Nicholson, back-rower Jon Huggett, winger Curtly Jenkinson and halfback Robbie Byatt were the pick.
"We've got a new competition next week, we've just got to flush that, train really well and know that we've got a competitive side," Purtell said.
"Having a home final, no doubt all the boys will be up for it."
Thunder hasn't played finals since 2016, losing an elimination final to Junee.