Butchers outlast Collies to claim top spot

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Thirroul have given themselves the inside running in the race to a top-two finish with a gritty 18-6 win over Collegians on Saturday.

Three weeks after upsetting arch-rivals Wests at Parrish Park, the Butchers claimed another major road scalp at Collegians Sports Stadium, and moved to 2-0 against the Dogs for the season.

The visitors were in command for the bulk of the contest, leading 10-0 at halftime on the back of tries to Wayne Bremner and Michael Morris, and 18-0 when Jye Bowen crossed in then 65th minute.

Collies back-rower Liam Cassidy’s solo try with 11 minutes to play gave his side a sniff but it proved as close as they got.

It’s all about attitude

Having spent more time on tennis courts and asphalt than grass amid torrential rain, Costello said a win was always going to come down to attitude.

“The track looked a bit better from afar than what it was on the guys’ legs so it was a really tough win and we knew we had to play tough,” Costello said.

“We had a theme all week and that was for us to be disciplined, relentless and for us out to out-work Collies.

“That was our focus and that’s the way we played. The attitude was outstanding. We’re building something pretty good.

“You’ve got to keep in perspective, we’ve been training in a carpark. We’ve trained on a footy field twice this year.

“For them to go out there and perform the way they are with the very limited preparation we’re doing, they deserve a lot of credit.”

Pivotal points

It was a pivotal two points on the line for both sides, with the Butchers now taking on Helensburgh and De La Salle in the next fortnight before coming up against bottom-two sides Cronulla Caringbah and Corrimal in the final two weeks.

It leaves a top-two finish, and two bites at the finals cherry, theirs to lose with four weeks remaining in the regular season.

“We were really, really aware of how important this game was,” Costello said.

“Now we need to go and perform in all of our last four games, and not just to maintain a top-two finish. You can’t just turn it on when you get to a semi, you need to be building consistency and playing that way every week.

“That’s what we’re looking to do now. We’ve got Helensburgh next week and what we did out there today means nothing if we don’t put a performance in against Helensburgh up there.

“We’ve got four more to get before we get to a semi and we want to make sure we’re building and improving every week.”

Hard work

The Dogs made the Butchers work hard for their points but looked off the pace with the footy, being held scoreless for 69 minutes.

“I thought we’d done enough work early on in the game that we were going to cash in down the stretch,” Fien said.

“We were probably a little bit clunky and a little bit out of sorts with our attacking structures because we haven’t had a lot of time on the footy field.

“There’s a lot of things we can look at but [Thirroul] definitely deserved the win today, they were much better at some of the key moments of the game.”

Having been pace-setters early in the season, Fien said the loss was a timely wake-up call as his side enters the home stretch of the regular season.

“In a good way it’s probably just given us a kick up the butt,” he said.

“Now we know where we’re at in terms of Thirroul and we just need to plough forward into the back end of the season with an eye on the finals.

“We had an opportunity that we’ve missed and we’re going to have to get back on the horse and get keep working hard because it doesn’t get any easier for us.

“It’s probably a line in the sand for us in terms of where we’re at. We’ve got De La next week and they’re looking for that big scalp.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to bounce back next week against a good quality team, but that’s easier said than done.”

Around the grounds

Elsewhere, the Canaries put themselves within reach of an upset against De La Salle at Dapto Showground, leading 20-18 early in the second half before the visitors ran in five tries to notch a 38-26 win.

Helensburgh kept their finals hopes alive at Rex Jackson Oval, shooting out to a 22-0 lead against Cronulla Caringbah en route to a 28-12 win, while young gun Isaiah Kennedy grabbed a hat-trick for Wests in the Devils’ 54-6 win over Corrimal at Ziems Park.

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