We had 80 minutes to prove that we are good enough and in the end we were short
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers struggled to hide the bitter disappointed of his team's third successive failure to kick on in the Super Rugby play-offs.
Speaking after his team had lost 19-26 to a motivated Sharks in the semifinal at Newlands on Saturday, De Villiers admitted "it is going to take a while to get over this one".
The Stormers, who lost to the Bulls in the 2010 Super Final, last year also lost in a home semifinal to the Crusaders, despite having a week's rest.
This year, after again topping the South African conference, as well as the global standings, and facing a Sharks team that had had to travel back from Brisbane after beating the defending champion Reds, they were fancied to go all the way to the final.
In fact, De Villiers said in the build-up to Saturday's game that they would never have a better chance of winning the tournament.
However, he admitted afterwards that they had only themselves to blame for falling short once again.
Despite holding a brief 3-0 lead early in the match, the Sharks looked the better team throughout - leading 13-6 at half-time, then 16-6, 16-13, 23-13, 23-19 and finally winning 26-19.
"It shows how close rugby is... the bounce of the ball, seven points and that was the difference in the end," De Villiers said in reference to a first-half try that gave the Sharks a 10-point lead they never looked like surrendering.
"We can only blame ourselves," De Villiers said, adding: "We had 80 minutes to prove that we are good enough and in the end we were short."
He spoke of the bitter disappointment if playing in front of a sell-out Newlands and coming away empty handed.
"That's what makes it tough... the disappointment for the supporters. We let them down by not winning this one.
"It is tough when you get such good support here, week in and week out and you can't pay them back with some sort of cup to show for it.
"As I said, it is going to be tough to get over this one. I don't think we ever stopped trying, but we were short."
He also paid credit to the Sharks for travelling so much.
"It was tough to win last week and then again putting up a big performance here [at Newlands]," said the Stormers captain.
"If there is a team you can't bet against to win this thing it is the Sharks, so all the best for next week and we will definitely be behind them."