Red Devils cap off year of domination

Wests Illawarra capped off a truly memorable Illawarra Carlton League campaign with a hard-fought 14-4 win over reigning premiers Thirroul in yesterday's grand final.Played at WIN Stadium, it was typified by rugged, relentless defence. Although they are best known as a brilliant attacking side, the Red Devils produced an outstanding defensive effort to take out their first premiership since 1991. It provided a perfect completion to their 60th anniversary celebrations.From the start of the season Wests were the dominant club this year and already had earned the minor premiership and club championship.But the biggest prize was the one they desired most - now they have it.On the back of their non-stop forward pack, halves Blake and Nathan Dureau - in their first year with Wests - scored all the Devils' points, halfback Blake with one try and three goals and five-eighth Nathan with a try.Wests led 12-0 at half-time and much as the brave Butchers tried to close the gap in the second term, the buffer became a bridge too far.The Devils' first try came in the seventh minute when they kept the football alive after the initial hit-up by prop Damien Kennedy.It went onto hooker Matt Clarke, second-rower Dan Lawson and centre Carl Fritz before Nathan Dureau scored and Blake Dureau added the extras.Both teams squandered a fair bit of possession before a smart try to Blake Dureau off a grubber kick into Thirroul's in-goal on the half hour. He converted his own try for a 12-0 Devils lead.Thirroul were on the scoreboard in the 45th minute when winger Sean Jenkins pounced on a loose ball in Wests' in-goal but that was the extent of their scoring for the game.Blake Dureau added the icing to the cake for the Devils with a penalty goal in the 38th minute.The premiership was a triumph for former Australia, NSW, Dragons and Steelers centre Paul McGregor in his first season as a coach."We've had a wonderful year and to close it like we have today, I'd just like to say a special thanks to the club for giving me the opportunity to coach. "They deserve this more than me," McGregor said."I'm glad we could bring it home for them on a special occasion like today," he added."We turned over a lot of ball and we were lucky that they did too."But our defence was strong. They scored one try off a couple of dropped balls. "Our defence has been outstanding all year and it goes to show that come grand final it held together," he said.Thirroul captain-coach Ryan Powell paid tribute to Wests' defence, which prevented the Butchers from capitalising on field position at times."They shut down everything we threw at them and full credit to them. "They deserve to be doing the lap (of honour)," Powell said."We didn't stop trying. "We played very disappointingly, with our errors. We created opportunities but couldn't capitalise."If you don't capitalise in a grand final - you don't get too many (opportunities) - so it really hurt us. You don't get them back," Powell admitted. Both sides had a key player withdraw from their selected team.Thirroul lost tireless second-rower Mark Corrigan with a torn pectoral muscle and, Wests utility back Reece Simmonds fractured his leg again in a training mishap.

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