STEVE Price was unable to explain after the match why his Warrington Wolves side failed to perform as they exited the play-offs at the first hurdle in embarrassing fashion.

The Wire were humiliated 19-0 on their own turf by a Tony Smith side that sneaked into the top-six for the first time in eight years, had conceded lots of points in their recent matches and were missing nine players – including leading try scorer Ryan Hall and star hooker Matt Parcell.

All at The Halliwell Jones Stadium and watching from home were left stunned as Wolves bowed out of the first round for the third year in a row.

It was a disastrous finale for the likes of departing club legends Chris Hill and assistant coach Lee Briers, along with Price, his other assistant Andrew Henderson and players Jake Mamo, Tom Lineham and Sitaleki Akauola whose Wire careers are now all over.

For one of, if not the most expensively assembled squads in Super League, the spotlight is now firmly fixed on this season’s failure and the Price era following his arrival in 2018.

He was asked if he felt a sense of under achievement?

"At the minute there is,” he said in his post-match press conference.

"Over the next couple of days I'm going to have to reflect on how we put ourselves in a really strong position at the back end of the season to get a top-two spot and just missed out.

"I thought it was our best 40 minutes that we played last week and we came out today and struck our worst performance.

"I'm not going to sugar-coat it from that."

It was put to Price that there has to be a reason for going from the best to the worst in a week, but he said at the minute he didn't have an answer.

Price was asked for his overriding feelings at this moment.

He said: "Disappointing, and there's really not much more to say.

"I never saw that coming. It's gut-wrenching to be honest with you."

The Wire went into the game as massive favourites with a semi-final trip to St Helens next Friday at stake and the last hurdle to a Grand Final send-off for all the departees.

And with Warrington still chasing a first title since 1955, a fact weighing heavy on the club, perhaps the pressure got to the players as they made an uncharacteristic 21 handling errors – some of them in try-scoring situations.

But Price said: "I don't think so.

"We'd shown them a huge amount of respect during the week and knew what was going to come.

"It was 6-0 at half time and I was still confident we could overcome that in the second half.

"But we compounded it with errors, through yardage penalties, so many pressure releases and not being able to build sustained pressure, and in the end the scoreline told."

So was it the nerves that got to the players?

Again Price said: "No, I don't think so.

"It's a personal responsibility to be able to control the ball, and get up to play the ball. So we're going to have to live with that."

He added: "When you come up with the amount of errors we did in the first half and then compounded it in the second half - it was 21 in total - you're never ever going to give yourself a chance in rugby league."

Price was asked why he thought such an amount of errors came in this particular match.

He said: "That's a good question.

"I can't put my finger on it."

Further summarising the performance, he added: “We got what we deserved.

"Full credit to Hull KR, they came with some high energy and played some really good football against us.

"And we didn't handle it."

Price was asked what message he had for the fans after a tough night for them to take.

"I'd like to thank all the Wire fans, the true believers who have stuck solid for us over the last four years,” he said.

"I honestly feel we have a fantastic supporter base and I'm very sorry for what we dished up tonight. I'm going to have to live with it.

"To my coaching staff and players, I'd like to thank them for how they've carried themselves.

"I'll be watching from afar and wishing everyone all the very best."

Price will return to his former role as assistant coach at Cronulla Sharks in the Australian NRL competition next season.

Current Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell is to take over at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.