An emotional Broncos coach Kevin Walters said his men are “pissed off” after letting slip the club’s first premiership in 17 years on Sunday night.
The Broncos were charging towards the title when they led the Panthers 24-8 after 60 minutes following a second hat-trick from Ezra Mam.
But Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary simply refused to lose and rewrote the script as he orchestrated three late tries to win it 26-24.
Walters was asked to describe the emotion inside the Broncos sheds after the devastating loss.
“There’s no emotion in there, it’s very quiet. It’s just hard to get your head around what actually happened. It’s very disappointing,” Walters said.
“I feel for all the players in there who gave so much, but it wasn’t enough in the end.
“I think the whole stadium thought we’d done enough, except for a few people. It’s something we can get better at next year, certainly. But right now it’s a pretty empty feeling.
“I just feel for the boys in there that gave so much, not just tonight but all season and then to finish like that.
“I watched the AFL grand final yesterday and I thought that’s not a nice way to lose, the Lions, and here we are sitting here in the same situation.
“We should have won that game, but we didn’t and hats off to Penrith, they played some good football at the back end and that’s where we’ve got to get better, our starts and our finish.
“That second half in that period there for 20 minutes, that’s the Broncos I know and we’ll get there, doing that for 80 (minutes).
“We’re not there yet but when we do we’ll win premierships and that’s what it’s about. We’re not far off, we’re getting there, we’re a lot closer now than we were 12 months ago.”
Walters said there was very little more he could have asked of his side and said the “football gods” simply weren’t on their side on Sunday night.
“In 2015 the Broncos lost in similar fashion, it just wasn’t meant to be tonight. I can’t ask for anything more from my players, their effort,” he said.
“You try and find things in the game but it’s just the way the game goes and I’ve been in games when that’s happened to me and I’ve been on the other side of it when he didn’t go our way for whatever reason.
“To where the club is now compared to where it was when all these guys got their hands on the club, is just absolutely remarkable.
“We can be really proud of that but we wanted to win a premiership this year, and we didn’t get there so that pisses us off.
“But let’s give Penrith some credit too, they’ve made four grand finals in a row which is the first time that’s been done since I’ve been born. That’s pretty elite so they’re a good side and we need to respect that.”
Broncos skipper Reynolds said the message to his players in the second half was to “keep playing footy”.
“We probably just went a bit one out and they had all the momentum and we couldn’t get it back. It’s disappointing,” he said.
“Losing in general is tough, it doesn’t matter the result. It’s a big game and you want to win those games and unfortunately I’ve been on the other end of it (twice).
“We had our moments and were good in patches but just didn’t find a way in the end to get it done.
“You never wanna feel that way again so you can use that as motivation. We’ve got a good group of fellas in there who work hard and they want to get better, every day.”
Reynolds appeared to injure his groin during an innocuous 25th minute tackle, but he stayed on the field and finished out the game.
“It was a little sore, I was tossing up whether to give the kicking duties to Walshy… I could feel it throughout the game but it wasn’t bad enough to stop me from doing things,” he said.
Originally published as ‘Pisses us off’: Walters’ emotional response after Broncos’ devastating grand final loss