THERE was literally no splitting them in their previous two showdowns so it came as no surprise that Thirroul and Wests took their round eight clash down to the wire on Saturday.
The Butchers ultimately outlasted the Devils 20-16 at Parrish Park after trailing 10-8 at halftime despite scoring two tries to one in the first half.
Four pointers to Jake Walsh and Callum Tutauha in consecutive sets midway through the second half were enough to get the Butchers over the line despite the hosts pressing hard for a late leveler down the stretch.
The Devils did well to lead 8-0 early after losing centre Hayden Carpenter (shoulder) and Justin Rodrigues (concussion) in the early stages amid a glut of possession to the visitors.
They were able to make a match of it down the stretch, but Thirroul were ultimately good enough to hand the Devils their first loss.
Having fought out two draws with top four rivals already this season, it was a vital two points for Jarrod Costello’s men.
“When you’re in those close games there you’ve got to take the points when they’re on offer,” Costello said.
“We had a draw round one, and there was nothing between us last year, so we knew there wouldn’t be much between us today. I thought we missed the start a little bit in that first 10 minutes and we were down at halftime but the guys hung in there.
“They’re a really good side, they play a lot of footy and their defence is really good, so it was a really important win for us with where we’re sitting on the ladder.
“We’ve got Dapto next week and then Berkeley and Collies, it’s got a hard month of footy, so it was a real important one today.”
The Devils were under the pump early but still managed to lead 6-0 when Glenn Stewart put Tony Pellow away down a short blindside, with Luke Towers backing up to score.
Zac Greene converted and added a penalty goal for an 8-0 lead after 16 minutes.
Tutauha laid one a double for Hayden Crosland as the Butchers leveled before Greene’s second penalty goal gave the hosts a 10-8 lead at the break.
A penalty goal to Luke Gallagher and converted tries to Walsh and Tutauha gave the Butchers a 10-point buffer with a try to Brad Speachley with 13 minutes left as close as the Devils got.
It left coach Pete McLeod with some injury worries ahead of a monster clash with Collegians but he said his side didn’t take their opportunities.
“You don’t get many chances against Thirroul and we didn’t get many today,” McLeod said.
“We defended our line for a long period and tried to transition into attack really quickly but we just couldn’t build any pressure. Full credit to them, they didn’t give us many opportunities and they were the more dominant side for the 80 minutes.
“I thought with 10 minutes to go we were a chance to pull it out of the fire but we didn't really execute in the last five minutes and weren’t good enough in the end.”