Thirroul’s Daniel Rauicava, Adam Goode, Joel Johnson, Daniel Perkins, Duncan Reilly and Bryce Forrest have already forgotten the dying seconds loss to Helensburgh last week and are set to tackle Collegians at WIN Stadium this afternoon. Picture: SYLVIA LIBERThirroul have refocused this week, after their gut-wrenching 20-18 loss to Helensburgh last Sunday, for a tilt at Collegians in the Illawarra Coal Cup minor semi-final at WIN Stadium today.
The Butchers led the Burgh for all bar the last five seconds of the qualifying final, only to be sunk when Tigers centre Ben Haran scored the second of his two late tries to leave Thirroul in a sudden-death situation today rather than going on to play Wests in the major semi-final tomorrow.
Though Thirroul’s defence was rock solid across the park, they were exposed in the air because all of the Tigers’ tries came as a result of cross-field bombs or floating chip kicks to the corner, a tactic the Butchers will have to rectify against Collies today.
Collies just scraped into the minor semi-final after holding on for a 14-12 win over Shellharbour in the elimination final last Saturday.
Collies’ talented five-eighth Mitchell Wynn will miss the match because of a quad injury, and winger/fullback Ron Kissell is rated only a slim chance of overcoming a hamstring problem that prevented him from playing last Saturday.
However, the Dogs will be boosted by the return of fullback Henry Raiwalui.
The Butchers will be without second-rowers Jacob Ling, who has been selected in the Illawarra Cutters team to play Manly today, and Duncan Reilly, who has not recovered from a dislocated shoulder. Former Country Firsts representative Joel Ruskin, whose season has been interrupted by injuries, comes back into the side.
Thirroul pipped Collies 30-28 with a conversion after the full-time siren in the last round of the regular season and today’s eliminator is expected to be another close encounter.
“All the blokes were pretty shattered after the [Helensburgh] game. To lose like that was disappointing, but there’s a lot of positives to take out of the game,” Thirroul coach Phil Ostwald said.
“To hold them out across our line … they scored all their four tries from kicks.
“We had to make 100-plus more tackles in the second half than we did in the first half. To take it right to the wire like we did was a very positive outcome really.
“We need to put that aside and concentrate on this week now.”
Ostwald is all too aware that the Butchers have to be switched on for the full 80 minutes against Collies. The same could be said about the Dogs, who let the game out of the bag in the last eight seconds last time they met.
“There’s not much between the teams. Collies had a good end to the year, that’s why they’re there,” Ostwald said.
“They’re playing with a lot of enthusiasm and now they’re going about their business.”
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