ILLAWARRA COAL LEAGUE
Bragging rights are up for grabs when Thirroul square off with Wests in Saturday's top-of-the-table showdown at Gibson Park.
The Butchers are the only undefeated team after four games, but captain-coach Nathan Fien knows Wests would love to knock his side from top spot.
"We've got a big few weeks coming up and no doubt this is going to be our biggest test to date," Fien said.
"We've played some pretty good teams and we've had moments when we've been under pressure from every side this year.
"Wests have a few injuries and we've got a few injuries, so you'll probably see the two sides' best footy towards the back-end of the year, but it's still an important game for both."
After kicking off their 2014 campaign with a 12-8 win over reigning premiers Collegians, Thirroul drew 16-16 with Helensburgh before chalking up wins over Dapto (24-4) and Corrimal (18-10).
The Cougars made them work from start to finish last week.
"We had a bit of a scare against Corrimal," Fien said.
"We probably haven't played our best football to date, but the good thing is that we've still been able to win and I'm pretty pleased with how things are travelling.
"Wests are nipping at our heels on the ladder, and with the comp being so short, to get a win early in the season against someone that you're going to come up against later on, it can be a good thing."
Wests have made steady progress under first-year coach Jason Ryles.
Last week they accounted for 2013 grand finalists Helensburgh 30-14.
"They're a side that don't make a lot of mistakes and they just grind you down, so we have to go with the mindset that this game's going to be all about that," Fien said.
"Our discipline has to be a lot better. We got out to a really good lead against Corrimal and kept inviting them back into the game with silly errors and penalties that hurt us."
Dapto and Corrimal are both seeking their first premiership points in Saturday's battle at Dapto Showground, while Collies host Helensburgh in a grand final rematch on Sunday.