Helensburgh's focus a driving force

Helensburgh fullback Jason Raper and his Tigers teammates still remember last season's heartbreaking grand final loss to Collegians. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Helensburgh fullback Jason Raper and his Tigers teammates still remember last season's heartbreaking grand final loss to Collegians. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

RUGBY LEAGUE

The minor premiership will be on the line when Thirroul host Helensburgh in Saturday's mouthwatering top of the table showdown at Gibson Park.

Helensburgh are the competition's hottest team with seven straight wins and will effectively clinch top spot if they extend the streak to eight at Thirroul's expense.

But the Butchers are on a four-game winning run of their own and will draw level with the Tigers on 19 premiership points if they can defend their home turf.

That's something they didn't do when they hosted the Burgh on May 25, suffering a 25-0 shut-out.

Thirroul haven't lost since, averaging 43.8 points in four wins and conceding just 8.5 points.

"To beat them down there at Gibson Park and hold them to nil is pretty rare, so I'm sure they're going to be a totally different team on Saturday," Tigers fullback Jason Raper said.

"Since we last played them we've gotten a lot better, but so have they."

Helensburgh finish the season with games against Corrimal, Wests and Collegians. The Butchers wrap up their season against Dapto, Corrimal and Wests.

"I'm going to be honest, we've touched on [the minor premiership]," Raper said.

"This game can pretty much seal it for us or it can open the door for the Butchers if they win, so it's been touched on. We know how big a game it is for sure.

"It's always a good game against the Butchers. We've built up a pretty good rivalry over the last couple of years. We're itching to get down there."

The Burgh lost last year's grand final 29-28 to Collies on a dramatic last-second field goal.

They are determined to make 2014 the year of the Tiger.

"I'll never forget what happened down there last year. It was heartbreaking," Raper said.

"It's certainly a driving force behind us and we're really enjoying our footy up there.

"Eamon [Hillen] and [Jarrod] Boyle have had a great year and that's been the catalyst for us going well.

"It's no doubt that we're a tight bunch of boys, but I'm sure every team can say that. Our forwards have really stood up. There were doubts at the start of the year and people were saying we needed a forward or to sign a big name, but our forwards have stepped up and been outstanding. They get us going forward and we can't do anything without their efforts."

Fourth-placed Collegians are desperate to snap a three-game losing skid when they host winless Corrimal, while Dapto and Wests square off at Dapto Showground.

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