Shattered Knights coach Adam O'Brien admitted a disastrous few minutes just before half-time when his side mentally clocked off and conceded two tries hurt more then a late penalty try that put Sunday's elimination final out of reach.
O'Brien refused to talk after the game about Eels centre Will Penisini's controversial penalty try four minutes from fulltime that wrapped up their 28-20 victory, saying "I'll save myself some cash" by not criticising the decision.
Instead, he focused more on how the Knights let a 10-6 lead slip in the space of a couple of decisive minutes before the break.
The momentum swung on a crucial six-again, last-tackle call against Tyson Frizell from referee Ashley Klein six minutes from half-time.
Less than a minute later, Klein called Daniel Saifiti offside from a play-the-ball and Eels man of the match Mitch Moses seized on the opportunity, spearing past the Knights prop in the defensive line before beating Kalyn Ponga to score under the posts.
That was compounded two minutes later when centre Bradman Best got caught in field at marker after making a tackle, and Clint Gutherson and Penisini combined to put Blake Ferguson over in the corner with the Knights caught short down their left edge.
"We switched off mentally and it cost us a couple of tries," O'Brien said. "Those two tries hurt me more than that [the penalty try] one.
"We [needed to] control that stuff before half-time and that's where we've got to get to ultimately. You take care of those things there and the try at the end is not important."
While disappointed to bow out, O'Brien praised his side's courage to stay in the contest after looking shaky at 22-10 down early in the second half.
"They fought so hard and I'm really proud of them," he said. "Collectively, they were really brave. There is plenty of courage and ticker in this group.
"It's been a big effort the last 10 weeks with the buy-in. We were 14th not that long ago and then we reset the ladder and really improved in a lot of areas.
"I think we are in a good place to build. It takes time to build success and we are on the right track but we just can't take our focus off it.
"We'll enjoy the summer but we'll come back ready to work hard and we'll identify a couple of areas, particularly with the ball, that we can get better at."
O'Brien was full of praise for Kalyn Ponga, who was again the Knights' most threatening. He came up with two superb passes that led to two Enari Tuala tries.
"I thought he was great. Right from the start, I thought he was really sharp with the footy," he said.
Eels coach Brad Arthur liked what he saw from his playmaker Moses.
"He was good, he ran the footy," Arthur said.
"He had a real focus around defence and kicking. His kicking wasn't great early in the piece into that breeze - it was very strong. But he soon corrected that."
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