Butchers set for showdown with reigning premiers

FOCUSED: Thirroul coach Jarrod Costello says his side is still searching for the consistency to match the top sides. Picture: Robert Peet
FOCUSED: Thirroul coach Jarrod Costello says his side is still searching for the consistency to match the top sides. Picture: Robert Peet

THEY’VE announced themselves as genuine top two contenders this season but Thirroul are still to produce a full 80-minute effort according to coach Jarrod Costello.

The Butchers sounded an early-season warning to their rivals when they were edged out by competition leaders Collegians at home before knocking off reigning premiers Dapto and Wests in consecutive weeks.

Their form since has been scratchy, edging out a win-less Berkeley outfit 28-24 in round seven before dropping their past two games to Helensburgh and Collegians.

Last week’s loss to the Dogs was a particularly bitter pill to swallow after surrendering a 22-8 halftime lead to go down 34-22. It made the video review a frustrating one for Costello ahead of his side’s clash with reigning premiers Dapto at Dapto Showground on Saturday.

“We came home pretty strong at the end of the first half, that was probably our best period and we piled on a couple of tries,” Costello said.

“It would’ve been nice to keep building on that momentum but that’s the game, it’s two halves and you’ve got to be able to get back out there and re-establish yourselves [after halftime] and we weren’t able to do that.

“We played well to get ourselves that lead in the first half but in the second half there was a 13-minute period where we just lost control through the middle of the park and got a bit loose defensively in the middle third.

“They’re a good side and they made us pay. We’ll just have to be better in that area against Dapto this week.”

The chalk and cheese performances told the story of the Butchers campaign thus far, but Costello has seen enough to be confident his side can do more than trouble the league’s heavyweights.

“We’re confident we can match it with the top sides as long as we’re playing consistent footy and we’re being clean and disciplined,” Costello said.

“We’ve played some really good halves of footy, we’ve put in a good 60 minutes here and there but we’ve got to be able to do it for the full 80. We’ve just got to make sure we limit those periods where we do lose control.

“There’s no excuses, we’ve had our chances in every game. We’ve been in all three that we’ve lost and probably should’ve been able to win all three because we were in them at key times.”

The Butchers need only look to their last clash with the Canaries – a brusing 12-10 victory at Gibson Park – for the blueprint to halt their mid-season wobbles.

“It was a very physical game in the middle that day,” Costello said.

“We were clean and disciplined in what we did with the ball. We defended really well and we limited their opportunities through the middle. We need to try and replicate that this week.

“They’ll be ready to go, they’re  a quality side, they’re the reigning premiers and they’re probably the favourites to go back to back. They’ve got a big powerful pack and they’ve got guys who get out from dummy-half really well.

“There’ll be no ambush this week, we’ll need to be on from the get-go.”