Parramatta Eels coach Brad Arthur admits his side "capitulated" after they were eliminated from the NRL playoffs following their 38-24 defeat to the South Sydney Rabbitohs, but he refused to use the Michael Jennings controversy as a reason for their loss.
The Eels lost Jennings on game day after the veteran centre was provisionally suspended for an alleged anti-doping breach, as he returned a positive A-sample test for Ligandrol and Ibutamoren.
Arthur's men didn't seem phased by the loss of Jennings, as they raced out to an 18-8 halftime lead with Jennings' brother George - who played six games at the NZ Warriors on loan this year - among the try-scorers.
But momentum swung in the second half as the Rabbitohs took the lead with 20 minutes remaining.
The Eels then had a chance to level the scores at 20-20 with a Mitchell Moses penalty goal from point-blank range, but his attempt hit the upright and the Rabbitohs went the length of the field to score a converted try.
"Yeah it did [change the game] but we still had maybe 20 minutes I thought at that time," says Arthur.
"It's a moment in the game, it would have been nice to get to 20-all and see what happens from there but still from that point we still had plenty of time to manage the game and control it and defend a few sets.
"But it's very disappointing. We put ourselves into a position, we had 40 minutes to get the job done and we didn't, we capitulated for mine."
Arthur refused to pin the blame on Jennings' positive drug test, which could bring the end to his career in the NRL.
With Jennings out, the Eels had to get an exemption to allow Rotorua-born Haze Dunster into their team and make his NRL debut.
"[George] did a really good job. He managed to brush aside some personal matters and get on with the job for his teammates," says Arthur.
"I thought Haze did well. I thought for the positional changes that we made, they did their job.
"Their attitude was great and obviously, probably there was a bit more of a deeper conversation with George.
"But then when he got here he shrugged it off and was ready to go.
"I spoke to Michael earlier today. It wasn't long but it was just around making sure that he's got the support that he needs around him with his family."
Meanwhile, for the Rabbitohs, they face the Penrith Panthers next weekend with the winner to face either the Melbourne Storm or Canberra Raiders in the Grand Final.
The Panthers are on a 16 game win streak and have only lost once since the NRL resumed in May from the coronavirus-enforced shutdown. The Rabbitohs are also in good form with nine wins in their last 11 games.