IT WAS a bittersweet finale for Clermont Bears junior and North Queensland under-20 captain Chris McLean at the weekend.
After three years with his beloved Cowboys club and the scores locked up 30-30 in Sunday's Toyota Cup Grand Final with the New Zealand Warriors, all hopes hinged on one conversion by Cowboys' goal-kicker Kyle Feldt.
The kick was pushed wide.
Then just minutes into golden point extra-time, the Warriors slotted the winning field goal to shatter the hopes McLean and his teammates.
"He (Kyle) was pretty shattered," McLean said.
"I went up to him after the game and reassured that it wasn't his fault - that there were a lot of other factors which contributed to the result."
Arriving back in Townsville on Monday, McLean, who turned 20 this year, said he was still "pretty sore" from his first and last grand final appearance with the Cowboys Young Guns outfit.
"We had some time together as a group, just relaxing and enjoying the time we've got left," he said.
While there was nothing they do about the score, no-one could take away feeling of running out onto ANZ Stadium.
"It was a bit of shock," he said.
"There wasn't a lot of Cowboys supporters but the ones who were there, were certainly loud.
"Both Warriors and Cowboys supporters were clapping us off."
McLean said he held no regrets from his time at the Cowboys club.
"It's been a great life experience," he said.
"Looking over your shoulder at tackling practise and seeing blokes like Paul Bowman lining up - it's been really good."
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