Heat's on Butchers: Tigers skipper McCallum

RUGBY LEAGUE

Helensburgh captain Steve McCallum. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Helensburgh captain Steve McCallum. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

After carrying the "team to beat" tag through most of the regular season, Helensburgh skipper Steve McCallum says the pressure will all be on minor premiers Thirroul in Sunday's major semi-final at WIN Stadium.

The Tigers set the pace for most of the regular season with a seven-game unbeaten streak and were right on track for the club's first minor premiership before they faltered in the penultimate round with a 40-4 thrashing at the hands of Wests.

The loss shattered their unbeaten run at home this season and only a last-round win over Collegians, after trailing at half-time, secured their berth in the major semi-final.

The performances raised suggestions the Tigers peaked too early but McCallum said the end of season yips won't affect their confidence ahead of the finals.

"I don't think so. We've just been taking it every game at a time. Yeah, we were leading the competition by a few points there but because you play everyone three times it was just the way the draw worked out for us," he said.

"We had a couple of tough games to finish but to finish top two was our goal all year, so we've ticked that box and it's time to move on to the semis."

It was a 30-14 loss to Wests in round four that set the Tigers on a seven-match winning run and to the top of the table but McCallum said the Butchers - after wresting the minor premiership from their grasp with a late surge - will carry the heavier burden of expectation into Sunday's match.

"First spot in the grand final is big reward but the pressure's probably on Thirroul now that they're the minor premiers," McCallum said.

Since losing in last year's decider by a last-gasp field goal, the heartbreak has remained the elephant in the room for the Tigers.

After keeping it buried for most of the year under new coach Ryan Powell, McCallum said only now that they are within reach of grand final redemption, can they use the pain as motivation.

"We'll definitely use it now as a motivation to get us over the line," he said.

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