Without a handful of their strike players, the Corrimal Cougars scored the last three tries of the match to salvage a five-all draw against Thirroul in the Illawarra Premier League.
The Butchers, who were also without key personnel including Joel Willoughby, Tim Robinson and Nathan Fien, were dominant in the opening stanza.
“Credit to both sides as we were both light on numbers, but still it was a pretty good game to be involved in, with some good free-flowing tries scored,” Butchers captain Brad Elbourne said. “It was another tight game in greasy conditions, but I thought it was a solid performance on the back of a couple of good training sessions and we were probably a bit unlucky not to get the win.”
Butchers veteran Shane Turton was instrumental in Thirroul’s early ascendancy, jumping out to a 2-1 lead. Corrimal’s Max Devlin then levelled it with a bullet pass to an unmarked Callum Wishart moments before half-time.
After the change of ends, Thirroul’s improving ability to transition from defence to attack shone through, as they jumped out to a 5-2 lead before fading.
“It’s been a big focus of ours over the last couple of weeks,” Elbourne said.
“Particularly for the guys who are new to this level of structure, but everyone is on the same page and I think that is starting to being reflected in our performances on both the training and playing field.”
It’s a crucial period for Thirroul, who line up under the Wollongong Devils banner at the Country Championships at Thomas Dalton Park in five weeks.
“There is a positive vibe amongst the group and I think we’re starting to see the benefit of being able to spend some time training and playing together,” Elbourne said.
“We’ve come a fair way in a short space of time, so before Country champs, I think we’ll continue to grow as a group and some pretty positive results are on the horizon.”
Wollongong Touch Association is expected to field eight teams, accompanied by nine referees at the tournament, on October 20-21.
In the earlier match, Helensburgh were too good for Berkeley, running away with a 7-4 win.
The difference could have been greater, had it not been for a determined length-of-the-field chase from soaring Eagle Cody White to deny Dwayne Brown a try.
Next week, Helensburgh face Dapto in a top-of-the-table Premier League showdown, after Berkeley play the Butchers.
ILLAWARRA PREMIER LEAGUE
Helensburgh Tigers 7 d Berkeley Eagles 4, Thirroul Butchers 5 drew with Corrimal Cougars 5, Dapto Canaries bye