THIRROUL will head into Sunday’s minor semi-final showdown with Wests in red-hot atacking form after completing their regular season with a 46-4 win over Berkeley on Saturday.
The Butchers led 28-4 at the break and finished with 10 tries, taking their point-scoring tally to a whopping 116 points in their past two games against Corrimal and the Eagles. Having hit some mid-season hurdles after a strong start to the season, coach Jarrod Costello said it was important his side carried strong form into what will be sudden-death football this weekend.
“We scored some good tries and we executed well at times so that’s probably the main takeaway [from Saturday], as well as some good individual performances,” Costello said. “You’ve got to make sure you’re playing good footy going into the finals but it’s about what you’re doing at training as well. We’ve ramped that up the last few weeks knowing we were heading into finals.
“We lost a couple of games in a row there in the middle part of the year but, while we were out-played by Dapto, we were certainly in all those other games. We’ve improved the last couple of weeks and put together a couple of good performances going into the semis but we’ll need to be a lot better against Wests, that’s for sure.”
Sunday’s match will be a finals return for the Butchers, who went without play-offs action for the first time in more than two decades in 2016. They’ll also draw on a vast reservoir of finals experience, with Costello noticing some of his veterans stepping up their game as the finals approach.
“It’s a really good feeling at the moment, not just in first grade but throughout the club to have three sides qualified,” Costello said.
“Those more experienced guys, you just notice those subtle changes in their demeanor and how they go about things.
“Johnno [Joel Johnson] and Ty [McCarthy] have really stepped up the last couple of weeks. Jack Noble’s an experienced player and he’s really led by his actions the last four or five weeks now and Aaron Beath’s been excellent. He brings so much on the field and off it, he’s such a great clubman and leader.
“The guys are all really good mates off the field so they’re a tight group and you can tell from the atmosphere at training how excited they are.”
Their was no splitting the third and fourth-placed sides the last time they met in round 12, with the perennial finals combatants fighting out a tense 16-all draw, and Costello is expecting another tight encounter on Sunday.
“Both times we’ve played Wests they’ve been really close games and really physical games so we don’t expect anything different this week,” Costello said.