ILLAWARRA COAL LEAGUE
Collegians brought Thirroul's unbeaten start to the season to a shuddering halt with a 50-26 victory over the Butchers at Gibson Park on Sunday.
The Butchers had conceded less than 12 points per game going into the match but were blown away on the back of a play-making masterclass from Collies five-eighth Sam Duggan.
Duggan scored the first try of the match and had a hand in three others in the first half. His accuracy with the boot earned his side a 40-20 midway through the first half and brought his personal tally for the match to 18 points with a try and seven goals.
Coach Reece Simmonds said his side showed up with the right attitude following a disappointing loss to Helensburgh last week.
"It's always tough to come out to Thirroul and get the win but we were pretty good today," he said.
"Our attitude was there today which has been lacking and that showed.
"I knew they had a physical game [last week] and it's hard to back up from a tough game like that, so we had to come out and put them on the back foot with a good start.
"I thought we did that, so I'm pretty happy."
Duggan opened the scoring after five minutes with a close-range effort for a 6-0 lead only for the Butchers to hit straight back through James Bannister, who ran onto a Pat Franks offload to cut the lead to 6-4.
Collies back-rower Blake Williamson scored soon after when he charged onto a pass from Duggan and powered his way through uncharacteristically brittle Butchers defence.
Midway through the half Duggan produced a 40-20 kick that allowed substitute Daniel Bourke to score under the crossbar and extend the lead to 16-4.
The Butchers clawed back into the match when a deft grubber from Thirroul skipper Nathan Fien trapped Dogs fullback Jay Bonnell in goal.
Interchange forward Mitch Wynn scored from the ensuing drop out to peg the lead back to 16-10.
It looked like the score would hold until the half-time break before a determined try from Collies skipper Jarrod Thompson on the siren pushed the lead out to 22-10.
Centre Mason Pure scored immediately following the resumption and when Junior Teleni scored soon after it was a case of how large the margin would be.
Pure scored his second try and Jay Bonell and Ben Tousis also picked up tries to notch the half-century. Butchers five-eighth Sam Clune, Fien and Reece Jaeger all picked up late consolation tries for Thirroul to bring the final score to a more respectable 50-26.
The performance of Duggan at five-eighth served to highlight the absence of Butchers' regular playmaker Nathan Wynn, who was one of several notable absences due to injury and suspension.
Fien admitted a number of tough games in their unbeaten start to the season may have taken their toll.
"I guess if you wanted to look for excuses you could say that but we pride ourselves on our performance and today we just weren't up to it," Fien said.
"After the tough week last week we just couldn't get ourselves back up unfortunately and we disappointed ourselves and our fans at home.
"Collies really gave us a lesson in what standard you've got to be at week in, week out.
"They're definitely a quality football side and we obviously need to raise the bar a little bit."
Elsewhere, Wests shrugged off a drama-filled week with a 46-12 win over Corrimal at Ziems Park, while Helensburgh beat Dapto 34-12 at Rex Jackson Oval.