GIBSON Park has often been a graveyard for visiting teams but it was Thirroul who were on the wrong end of a slaughter at the hands of eventual premiers Dapto last season.
The Canaries spoiled the party in what was Butchers stalwart Aaron Beath’s 300th game with a 57-0 victory in round eight that saw them post 11 tries.
It was a low point for the Butchers, though they bounced back to produce a strong finish to the season and are a vastly improved outfit in 2017.
They exacted some measure of revenge with a preseason trial victory over the reigning premiers and Canaries hard-man Matt Handcock said his side are braced for a further backlash when they return to Gibson Park on Saturday.
“Thirroul’s a great club with a very proud history and pride themselves on getting up for big games,” Handcock said.
“We went to their home ground last year on a big occasion and put one on them and I’m sure they’ll want revenge on us.
“We all know that so I’m sure it’s going to be a cracker of a game.”
Three from three so far this season, Dapto have been slightly down on form compared to their flying start to 2016, with Handcock conceding his side expected a slower start to their 2017 campaign.
“We expected it to take some time,” Handcock said.
“We were pretty busted by the end of last year so our preseason probably wasn’t as tough as our first one under Hendo.
“Hopefully that pays off towards the end of the year. It’s good that we’re three from three but as a team we’re probably not up to our standards yet.
“We’ve had a few injuries and some young fellas coming in who are still getting used to those standards.
“We’ve got a game plan we know works but we fall in love with ourselves a bit and go away from it. When we do stick to our game plan, which is a simple one, we put on points.”
The Canaries produced an ominous return to form with a last-start 56-0 win over Berkeley, though Handcock expects Thirroul to be a different beast.
“I think if we played anyone that day we were always going to turn up,” Handcock said.
“After Corrimal [in round two] we copped a bit of a spray from Hendo and then at training that week all the senior players got together and said we needed to lift.
“We did that against Berkeley and put some points on them but Thirroul are a different side at home and they’re going to come out extra fired up after last year.
"I think their forward pack is up there with the best in the competition so they’re going to be really strong through the middle.
“I think any game’s going to be won in the forwards, rain, hail or shine, so hopefully we can get on top of their forward pack and our backs can do the rest.”
In the weekend’s other match of a split round four, Collegians will be looking to continue their unbeaten start to the season when they travel to Berkeley Sports Ground to take one the Eagles.