ILLAWARRA COAL LEAGUE
Collegians centre Junior Teleni believes a disappointing 30-12 loss to grand final rivals Helensburgh in round five was the catalyst for the Dogs' return to form over the past two weeks.
The defending premiers shot to a 12-0 lead against the Tigers only to concede 30 unanswered points and Teleni said the disappointment helped spark the team to a 50-26 win over then competition leaders Thirroul and a comprehensive 44-12 drubbing of Corrimal in their last two outings.
The winning run has seen them post 94 points in two matches and sets up a blockbuster clash with Wests on Sunday after the Devils ground out a 28-10 win over Dapto last week.
"That [Helensburgh loss] was one of the turning points for us," Teleni said.
"It came down to attitude. We got off to a 12-0 start and then we dropped the ball and let the game go.
"From there we had a good debrief and we've put back-to-back wins together and we're ready to go against Wests.
"We're slowly building some momentum and the vibe around the club is very positive and full of energy."
Teleni made no secret of the Dogs' intention to play a power game against the league's most disciplined and structured outfit.
"We know it's going to be a very physical game. It's going to be very tough but the boys always get up when it comes to Wests," Teleni said.
"The formula for last year was our big forwards going forward and playing off the back of that.
"Reece hasn't changed much in regard to that game plan. It's very basic and it all just relies on us completing our sets."
Collies put together their most impressive performance of the season against Wests in round three, winning 34-24 in a free-flowing encounter.
Teleni expects Sunday's rematch to be a very different affair.
"It'll be much tighter this time around. We're expecting a very physical encounter and a very close encounter," Teleni said.
"We went into this competition knowing that the top four teams are going to be very, very tight and very close.
"At the end of the day any team that turns up mentally will win the game."
Collies will be without key playmaker Sam Duggan after he earned a call-up to the Illawarra Cutters this week, with Alipate Noilea, who wore the No 6 for Fiji in their recent test against Samoa, a possible replacement.
"Sam's going to be a massive loss," Teleni continued.
He's our key playmaker and really controls the game for us but at the end of the day that's out of our control.
"What we can control is the 17 that are available for us and we're going to turn up ready to roll."