Wire fan Rob Watson reflects on a sour ending to the 2021 season in his Spirit of 55 column

ONCE again, the last report of the season is a sad one.

For three years in a row now the recurring nightmare has been remarkably similar – a tame surrender at home in the first round of the play-offs. This year had looked different in that they had produced more energetic performances in the last few matches of the regular season.

I would say they did find a different way to lose this time. The effort seemed to be there, from the majority at least, but they had a collective shocker in terms of basic skills. It was the worst time to have their worst day.

Having so many players fit enough for selection was always going to mean that Steve Price would be leaving out some players that many others would have picked. I was surprised that Lineham came back in for Charnley, and as good as I think Thewlis is and will be, right now I think Ashton provides more of a threat from the wing. I was also shocked that when we needed three tries in the last 15 minutes or so, Ratchford was taken from the field.

It had started relatively brightly, but once the drops started it seemed like it was impossible for them to stop, and it became a horror show.

As Hull KR gradually grew into the game you could almost see the confidence drain from Wire and the panic begin to set in.

As has been the case for a few years now, the confidence of the team appears to be brittle at best. If things are not going as they would like, their belief seems to drain all too quickly.

Even when 14 points down late in the game, I still felt that if they could get one try then enough of that belief could come flooding back for them to pinch a dramatic win. It is like they need something good to happen before they can be confident. The problem was they did not look like they believed that first try would come.

With around 10 minutes or so to go, Longstaff was clearly imploring his teammates to give one last big effort. It was great to see a young player with that never-say-die attitude and the confidence to be shouting at his much more experienced colleagues. At the same time, it was worrying that it was only one of the youngest players on the team that was doing that.

It was a sad way for so many players and staff to finish with the club. The gamble on a coach with almost no experience as a head coach has ultimately not paid off.

Now it is time for a new coach, new players and a new era. It will be fascinating to see who makes Daryl Powell’s first-choice team and in what positions he plays them.

His most important job will be creating a new culture at the club, including building of that brittle confidence. With the likes of Thewlis, Longstaff, Wrench, Dean and Doro, Powell will have some promising young players to choose from in among all the big reputations.

For a while now Wire have tried to get success in the style of putting together a fantasy team, by collecting big name players and hoping to mould them into a successful team.

Hopefully this new era will have more emphasis on building a group of players that can play well together as a team, including some of those young players.

The brutal finality of the play-offs brings ecstatic joy for one team and agonising despair for all the others. It is the hope that kills you. But it is the dreams that keep you going.