Huddersfield Giants will come back stronger next season, their coach Ian Watson has vowed.
Their season came to a hugely disappointing close on Saturday with their 0-28 defeat in the Super League play-off eliminator to Salford Red Devils.
The Giants failed to even score a point in one of their worst performances of what had been an otherwise strong season.
In his second season in charge of the club, Watson took Huddersfield from ninth in the table to third, their highest finish since 2015, ensuring a first play-off campaign for seven years.
They also reached only a third Challenge Cup final in 60 years, coming within minutes of beating Wigan Warriors to win the trophy.
But the season ended with a whimper against Watson’s former club Salford, and the coach has told his team they must learn from the experience.
“This is going to sting,” said Watson, who remains without a trophy in his coaching career while Huddersfield continue to wait for their first major silverware since 1962.
“This is probably the most disappointing way we could have finished the season on the back of the development we’ve undertaken.
“But we’ve finished third, we’ve got to the Challenge Cup final and fallen short in that, so there’s a massive step forward in progression.
“Our players will learn a hell of a lot of lessons from this game, principally that play-off football is different.
“We don’t get enough credit for the amount of young players in our team. Salford taught us good lessons as there are a lot of players in there who have played in those big games and know how to handle them.”
Danny Levi was forced off in the Salford game by a knee injury and is now a serious doubt to play in the World Cup for Samoa.
“There’s a suspicion of an MCL (medial cruciate ligament injury) but he’s moving around alright so it might not be as bad as first feared,” said Watson.
The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.