Tigers Chris McBride (left), Jarrod Bremner, Wayne Boyle, Andrew Dallalana and Grant Smith. Picture: ANDY ZAKELIThirroul will be out to avenge a late loss to Helensburgh in the Illawarra Coal Cup qualifying final when the two sides meet again in the final at WIN Stadium tomorrow.
The Butchers were ahead 18-6 before the Tigers snatched victory a fortnight ago with three tries and a conversion, all in the last nine minutes.
All the Tigers’ tries were scored as a result of wide bombs or floating chip-kicks mainly in the direction of aerial specialist, winger Wayne Bremner.
Thirroul go into the final on the back of a 40-14 win over Collegians in the minor semi-final last Saturday while Helensburgh lost to premiers Wests 26-16 in the major semi-final last Sunday.
Again the Tigers came home with a wet sail but this time the leeway was too much to make up.
Wests led 26-4 but the Tigers scored two converted tries in the last three minutes. So it’s never over when the Tigers and the Butchers play as both have a history of playing hard right to the full-time whistle.
The final is expected to be another close encounter between these two northern Illawarra rivals for the right to play Wests in the grand final next Sunday.
“It’s a replay from last year, down to the same three sides again and the same result. We’ve come back through the back door and we play Helensburgh who’ve just been beaten by Wests,” Thirroul coach Phil Ostwald said.
“So it’s the same scenario as last year.
“The last few times we’ve played Helensburgh there’s been nothing in it.
“It’ll be the same again. There’s not much between the two sides really. Very close.
“Obviously they scored some good tries off some good kicks. Our defence was pretty good that day but in saying that we need to limit their opportunities in our half.
“To do that we need to have good defence and also some good ball control.”
Ostwald described last week’s win over Collies as a good confidence booster.
“To come away with a good solid win was good. It had to be won. We had to work hard to get the result, which we did,” Ostwald said.
“It was good for the blokes’ confidence which is good at this time of the year.”
The up-front clash will pit the Burgh’s Ian Donnelly and Mark McLennan against Thirroul captain Bryce Forrest and Shane Grady while both sides have strong, mobile back rows in the Tigers’ Brock Gilmour, Steve McCallum and Regan Hyde and the Butchers’ Aaron Beath, Mark Sheppard and Matt Gallagher.
Rival hookers, Tigers player-coach Wade Humphreys and Thirroul’s best all season Joel Johnson, will play a crucial role in determining the outcome, especially from dummy-half. Also, the kicking in general play by Burgh halves Andrew Dallalana and Jarrod Boyle, especially across-field in the direction of Bremner, presents a danger.
Johnson is in some doubt and a final decision on whether he will play will be made today.
Wests and Corrimal will meet in all three lower-grade finals.
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