Butchers show benefits of spirited defence

Butchers forwards Luke Gallaghar, Michael Blackwell and Jay Gallaghar have led the way in Thirroul's unbeaten start to the season. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Butchers forwards Luke Gallaghar, Michael Blackwell and Jay Gallaghar have led the way in Thirroul's unbeaten start to the season. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

RUGBY LEAGUE

Thirroul skipper Nathan Fien has attributed the Butchers' undefeated start to the 2014 season to placing a high price on their try line.

While they sit well behind rivals Wests (160) and Helensburgh (138) in the "points for" column with 96, the Butchers have conceded just 58 points in five games - the lowest in the competition.

Fien was unequivocal in crediting his club's flying start to their effort without the football.

"Our defence has probably kept us in all of those games through the year and that's probably why we are where we are," Fien said.

"There's plenty of spirit on our goal line. We're probably making a few more mistakes than I would like but the team spirit in our defence ... we're not getting penalised for it.

"At the back end of the year when teams are playing good footy that could hurt us, so there's still a lot to work on."

A second-round draw with Helensburgh is the only blemish on a record that sees the Butchers alone at the top of the ladder after the first round of the competition.

Fien said he'd been impressed by the culture he inherited in his first year in charge.

"The boys have shown the team spirit the Butchers have got and it's sometimes hard to get that at a club," he said.

"The local boys are the heart and soul of the Thirroul side and when they get an opportunity, they don't let anyone down."

Fien also praised his undersized forward pack for gaining the upper hand against bigger opposition.

"In terms of size we're not the biggest pack but we've really muscled up in the middle," he said.

"Blacky's [Mick Blackwell] leading the way for us and Beathy's [Aaron Beath] been really good for us as well.

"Jay Gallaghar's only an 18-year-old kid and he's been good for us coming off the bench and adding a bit of impact through the middle and Lukey Gal's [Gallaghar] not the biggest forward by any stretch but he's got a massive engine on him."

The Butchers, who overcame Wests 26-20 in a fiery match last week, face another stern test on Sunday against a Collegians side looking to bounce back from a 30-18 loss to Helensburgh.

Fien is wary of a Collies side bent on revenge at Gibson Park after his side ground out a tough 12-8 win over the defending premiers in round one.

"Last week's win against Wests won't amount to much if we can't get ourselves up for this week," Fien said.

"We've got to raise the bar again because Collies will be looking to avoid back-to-back losses."

Collegians coach Reece Simmonds says his side need to show more respect for the football to be any chance of halting Thirroul's unbeaten start to the season.

The Dogs squandered a 12-0 lead to be overrun 30-18 by a determined Helensburgh last week and Simmonds said his side had yet to put together a full half of football this season.

"We were good in the early part of the game but we just showed the opposition no respect," Simmonds said.

"We just started throwing crap balls, too many went to ground and we were just showing no respect to them.

"We got ourselves behind in the arm wrestle and we just couldn't get it back.

"I don't think we were at our best against Dapto the week before either.

"We still came up with the win but we got away with throwing those [bad passes] and we probably took the easy option rather than roll our sleeves up and do the hard stuff."

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