A "heartbroken" Trent Robinson has applauded his Sydney Roosters for ending a frustrating season in promising fashion.
Sneaking into seventh thanks to a surging end to the regular season, the Roosters only fell a Will Warbrick miracle try short of reaching a preliminary final after losing to Melbourne 18-13 on Friday night.
Joseph Suaalii, Joseph Manu, Billy Smith, and Daniel Tupou were all unavailable as the Roosters entered the semi-final against the Storm as heavy underdogs.
The Roosters led 13-12 before winger Warbrick pulled off the matchwinner by leaping for a high ball in the corner with just 90 seconds remaining.
"We are heartbroken," Roosters coach Robinson said.
"We fought really hard to continue on and you believe you are going to keep going...right through until the end there.
"It is devastating to finish like that because we felt like we found our team the longer this season went.
"We didn't play well enough at different points to start the season and in the middle.
"It is nice to pump up the end (of the season) and cover that over but that's not true.
"If we want to be the best we can possibly be, we have got to be honest about the way we started the season."
Robinson was left fuming after a blatant knock-on from Storm hooker Harry Grant was not penalised in the first half.
Even Melbourne counterpart Craig Bellamy conceded the Storm had avoided a burst on their line because Grant's error was not picked up by the referee.
From the next play, Melbourne carried the ball down the other end to score again, through centre Marion Seve.
Robinson was disappointed by the decision, but refused to blame the non-call for the result.
"It was an error and they went down the other end and scored," he said.
"We should also have stopped that but (if Grant's knock-on was called) it would have been a try-scoring opportunity for us.
"We should have gone down and defended the play at the end of that. We should have been better than that.
"We should have finished the game and won the game. That is the feeling that sits there. It is not a call here or there."