The NRL has been reduced to eight teams, and the finals are here. Four weeks of glorious rugby league, which will crown the champion for 2021.

It's been another chaotic season with rule changes changing the fabric of the game, and more teams than ever struggling in a big way.

Despite that, we still had a race for the top eight which came down to the final day of the season as the Gold Coast Titans blew the New Zealand Warriors out of the water to knock the Cronulla Sharks out of the competition.

The Canberra Raiders were also in the running in the final round before they lost to the Sydney Roosters, while the Warriors themselves, as well as the St George Illawarra Dragons and Wests Tigers were in realistic contention up until the end of Round 23, and mathematical miracle level contention until Round 24.

The Brisbane Broncos, North Queensland Cowboys and Canterbury Bulldogs also missed the finals.

But what was the moment where their seasons took an irreversible trip to the bottom of the table? This is the moment for your eliminated club which sucked all the life out of the season.


Wests Tigers

There are a lot of moments you could look at for the Tigers and identify as the one which killed their chances. Maybe it was letting in 66 to the Storm? Or 40 and 38 to the Eels and Rabbitohs on either side of that. Or going back even further, a horrid Round 9 loss to the Titans.

But no, of all the tales from tiger town this year, it's impossible to go past the Round 20 two-point loss to the New Zealand Warriors.

This is a team who were still in with a shot at the finals, playing a side with quite literally everybody missing. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Leeson Ah Mau had gone home, Tohu Harris, Wayde Egan and Addin Fonua-Blake were injured, Matt Lodge was suspended, Euan Aitken played in the second row. The list goes on.

It should have been one-way traffic for the Tigers.

And it was for a little while as they ran out to a 10-0 lead at halftime. But then they must have fallen asleep in the sheds, because Aitken scored an out of position double and Bunty Afoa went right through them to score, putting the Warriors ahead.

In the end, it was only goal kicking which cost the Tigers, but it was a loss which they simply couldn't recover from to keep whatever slim chances they had alive.

NRL Rd 16 - Wests Tigers v Rabbitohs
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 04: Luke Brooks of the Tigers looks on after a Rabbitohs try during the round 16 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Leichhardt Oval on July 04, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)