COLLEGIANS remain undefeated at the top of the Hardware Man Illawarra League ladder after handing Wests their second straight defeat, 30-24, at Parrish Park on Saturday.
The Dogs led from start to finish but twice had to see off determined surges from the hosts who again fell just short of victory in a match befitting stand-alone status as part of a split round six.
As in all their tight victories this season, the Dogs’ key-position men again stood up, with halves Ben Jones and Jarrod Boyle and fullback Kyle Eather stamping their class on the match at various stages.
The Dogs have now beaten two of their top four rivals in their past two outings and remain the only side in the competition yet to taste defeat in 2017.
“It’s a valuable two points, it’s not often you go to Wests and get wins in all three grades so it was a good day for the club,” Collies coach Nathan Fien said.
“It’s important to get those early wins and, while it's a little bit stop-start at the moment, hopefully we can get through this little period with enough wins to really set up our season.
“By no means are we getting ahead of ourselves but I am very, very happy with where we’re at at the moment. We knew Wests were going to be up for it at home coming off a loss to the Butchers.
“We just challenged the boys to make sure we didn’t miss the jump because they were going to come hard and I think our first set of six defensively signaled our intentions.
“I thought Kyle Eather was really good at fullback and the more time Benny Jones and Boyley get together the better they’re going to be.
“They’re coming up with big plays and that experience is probably the difference from where we were this time last year to now.”
After a tough start to the game, Grayson Goodwin opened the scoring for the visitors with a 12th minute penalty goal.
It was all either side could manage in a torrid opening 20 minutes, but the Dogs sprung to life when Donte Efaraimo produced a miraculous catch of a pin-point Boyle kick to post the first try.
Efaraimo outdid himself with his second effort just four minutes later, leaping clear of the corner post and the cover defence to plant the ball inches inside the chalk.
It gave the Dogs a 12-0 lead but it was quickly whittled away in the nine minutes before halftime, with Wade Standford scoring a try and making the break for Josh Daley’s four pointer that leveled things up at 12-all at the break.
Replacement back-rower Haydn Peacock scored two minutes after the resumption when Wests failed to clean up a Jones grubber in their own in-goal.
The margin was again at 12 when Jordan Harty scored off a beautiful long-ball from Eather, who also produced a slick in and away and off-load for Goodwin’s 65th-minute try.
The Devils fought back through tries to Will Tom and Justin Rodrigues, but ultimately fell short with a late Daniel Burke penalty goal sealing the deal for Collies.