Miserable, admirable, unmissable, forgettable, unforgettable… there were more adjectives to describe Thirroul’s clash with Collegians than there were points in their Mojo Homes Illawarra Cup clash on Saturday .
A first-half penalty goal to Thirroul Centre Steve Marsters’ proved the only points through 80 minutes, the final whistle blowing on a 2-0 Butchers win on what could more accurately be described as Thomas Gibson Swamp.
Elsewhere, De La Salle continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 46-12 win over Dapto, Helensburgh got their season rolling with a 32-6 win over Cronulla Caringbah and Wests saw off a game Corrimal 30-10 at Community Oval, Moss Vale on Sunday.
A month-long deluge and several games prior to first grade left the Gibson Park pitch an unforgiving bog, with the players unrecognisable, the footy often uncatchable and sets un-completable.
“Never in my life have I played on a field like that,” Sironen said.
“I was surprised at how torn up it was. On Thursday when we trained here it didn’t look to bad, but with the downpour that we had, a couple of junior games… it just went to shit.
“There were a couple of scrums there where me and Boof (Collies skipper Blake Phillips) looked at each other and just went ‘you’re kiddin aren’t ya?’
“There was mud up to your knees in places. It was probably one of the funnest games I’ve ever played in just because of the conditions.
“It was pretty comical but, yeah, never before and hopefully never again.”
Two competition points will never come more hard earned, but one team was going to come away with them and Sironen said the Butchers were determined to ensure it was them.
“I said to the boys before we ran out, ‘these types of conditions, this type of game, you’ll be talking about it for years so let’s go out and get the two points because it was one we want to remember’,” Sironen said.
“We were there to get a job done and we did that. A win like that in these conditions is pretty character building for our squad.
“We had a bit of a rusty start against Dapto but to do something like that really gets our season on a roll.
“It shows that we’re here to play for each other, we’re full of grit, we’re full of determination and we’ll continue that in the next couple of weeks.”
After a closely fought first half, the second played out almost entirely at Collies’ end of the park, though the Butchers couldn’t get across in a try-less affair.
“The idea was to win the field position,” Sironen said.
“If we could win where the footy was played it would go a long way to winning the game and I think we did that in the first half.
“Even though there was a dropped ball every set, it felt like we were playing the majority of the time at their end. It was the same in the second half.
“We tried in the second half to play a bit of footy on the edges and we got a bit of early ball to Stevie (Masters) and he looked dangerous down the edge, but it was a game for the middles today.”
Dogs five-eighth Max Devlin went closest to breaking his side’s duck early in the second half, but sprayed a tough attempt at penalty goal.
It was one of few trips to the Butchers end for the reigning premiers, who fought to the finish but never went close to snatching the lead.
Coach Nathan Fien had nothing to fault in his side’s effort, but couldn’t hide his view that the pitch wasn’t fit for a first grade game.
“It was messy, I don’t know if you could call it a game of footy,” Fien said.
“At the end of the day it was a bit disappointing, right from the warm up. We were warming up in a two-metre grid.
“We went to the death, the character in the team was there, but how can you comment on the footy? You can’t take anything away from a game like that.
“In the end, Thirroul kicked the penalty goal. We had a chance to kick a penalty goal, they could’ve shanked there’s and it could have been nil-all.
“It is what it is and we’ll just move on.”
Article by Mitch Jennings, Courtesy of Illawarra Mercury
Picture: Anna Warr In the end Thirroul edged home at the end of a scoreless second stanza, claiming two competition points Butchers skipper Damian Sironen will never forget.