THIRROUL coach Jarrod Costello is adamant his side can make a run at this year’s grand final after landing the first blow of the Illawarra League finals with a 22-4 win over Wests on Sunday.
The Butchers were boosted by the inclusion Rhys Kennedy and Sam Clune, who’ve spent much of the the back half of the season with Illawarra, with the latter bagging a double in the minor semi-final victory.
The Butchers produced a near flawless first half, leading 12-0 at the break and keeping the Devils scoreless for 70 minutes, in a composed performance that gave every indication that a place in the decider is beyond them.
“It was a really controlled performance from us and that’s something we’ve spoken about in the last couple of weeks, being controlled in what we do,” Costello said.
“We knew with Cluney, Johnno [Joel Johnson] and Ty [McCarthy]in our spine, and with Jarrad Whitty at nine, that we had really cool calm heads in there.
“We had a game plan that we wanted to stick to and we were able to do it and just take the opportunities when they came.
“We knew Wests were going to come back in the second half and they parked themselves down on our try-line for a while.
“They’re a good footy team and I’m just really proud of how we were able to defend for that period and get away with it.
“We took our opportunities but defence won us the game.”
Dapto and Collegians will meet in this Sunday’s major semi-final, with the Butchers to play the loser a prelim final in two week’s time. Costello said the win over the Devils leaves him confident his side can match either.
“We’ve got a lot of belief,” Costello said.
“We need the week off. We’ve got some busted guys and had a few guys coming into today busted but it’s a really good confidence booster.
“We’ve got the final in a fortnight’s time and we need to put a performance there regardless of who we’re playing against.
“We’re confident we can do it but we need to improve again because they’re both really good sides and, whoever we come up against, we’re going to need to play really well.”
The Butchers led 8-0 when Clune crossed for his first try after Luke Gallagher opened the scoring with a penalty goal. A double to winger Sekope Meke either side of the break proved telling as the lead swelled to 16.
Will Tom finally broke the Devils duck 10 minutes from time before Clune’s second try on the stroke of fulltime sealed the result.
Wests coach Pete McLeod admitted it was a disappointing end to their season, two weeks after an impressive win over Collegians.
“The result’s disappointing but the way we played was really disappointing,” McLeod said.
“We just made a lot of errors early in the game which put us under pressure and forced us into a lot of defence and we never really recovered from it.
“When we did get some ball at the back end of the game we were just fatigued from all the defence.
“Full credit to Thirroul, they played exactly as we thought they would, they completed really high, ran hard, defended well so the better the team won for sure.”