The Cougars have been ripe for it.
All year the talk among rivals has been that Corrimal were not the side reflected on the ladder. They had long shaped as banana skin game for a finals hopeful and it was Dapto who were ultimately left on the deck.
The Cougars strung together an unbroken run of five tries through the middle stretch of the match and found the match-winner with just under 10 minutes to play.
It was the Cougars first win in 778 days, their previous win coming on June 19 2021 two weeks before the season was abandoned due to COVID.
It's the heaviest of lead balloons for the Canaries who put the wheels in motion on a finals fairy tale with four straight wins heading into last week's showdown with De La Salle.
They could have afforded to drop that one given Thirroul also went down to Wests, but Saturday's loss buries their finals hopes and sees them go out with a whimper.
Mitch Jennings says:
"It made for one win all season, but the scenes that followed Gethin Thomas' match-winner right in front of the Old Boys on Old Boys Day will sit among the most memorable of 2023.
"I wrote earlier this year that the entire competition owes the Cougars a great debt for their willingness to show up and empty the tank week after week for - until Saturday - no reward.
"Rival coaches and players have told the Mercury all year that the Cougars didn't deserve to go win-less through their campaign, with the victory ensuring they avoid that fate.
"It's a huge credit to coach Drew Keys and everyone who've kept the club together and firing long enough to break through in the penultimate round.
"It's a highly disappointing exit for the Canaries, who've gone a full 360 from underwhelming on a 1-7 start, to finals wildcard, to arrive back at underwhelming with a week to go.
"It'll be easy to point Saturday's loss as the one that broke the Canaries campaign, but coach Blake Wallace will likely rue some earlier defeats that put his side on a finals knife edge with a fortnight left.
"Regardless, it took a mighty coaching effort to pull a side out of a hole that deep and, under Wallace, the Canaries future looks bright once the bitter disappointment of a limp exit subsides."
Games don't come more brutal than Saturday's slugfest at Parrish Park. With points hard to come by, two tries in the five minutes before halftime to the Devils proved the telling blow.
It made Justin Rodrigues' lofted ball for Brock Sepulveda midway through the second half a match-winner given they were the only points in the second 40.
It leaves Pete McLeod's side within reach of a top-two finish if they can knock off Collegians in a blockbuster final-round clash this coming weekend.
"That's been the talk, we lost four in a row, but to start of the year we won eight in a row too, so we have a good football team," McLeod said.
"It was just about getting all the boys back together, setting a goal for the back end of the year and starting to do what we do well, which is take the games to teams and put pressure on teams.
"We've got a strong side, we've got high aspirations for the season and it was a really good effort today."
It was another close loss for Thirroul, who went down by six points at the death against Collegians last week.
"There'll be some sore boys tomorrow. There's a few things we need to improve on but also some good signs," coach Jarrod Costello said.
"Fingers crossed we get the benefits in the finals for having to play these harder games with a fair bit on the line [leading in]. I
"I've seen enough throughout the year to know that it's there [for us]. We've just got to make sure we get it right at the right time of the year."
Mitch Jennings says:
"This season, and perhaps a few preceding it haven't seen a game as brutal as this one. The physicality was enough to have spectators wincing but, with finals looming, it was something both sides could benefit from with finals looming.
"Wests looked unbeatable in an unbeaten start through the first eight rounds, but looked anything but a top-two side in four straight losses through the middle stretch of the season.
"Along with Thirroul, have felt the brunt of injuries but are nudging full strength at the right time and will be right in title reckoning wherever they finish the regular season.
"Corrimal did Thirroul a major favour in halting Dapto's finals run, locking the Butchers into fourth spot, but they won't want to head into the post-season on the back of three straight losses.
"Will welcome back some key personnel for important, but no doubt limited, minutes against Dapto this weekend. Will need to do the hard way but, having gone out in straight sets from the top of the ladder in recent campaigns, can embrace needing to do it the hard way."
Had the look of a one-versus-two clash in the opening 40 minutes that saw one try to De La for a slender halftime lead. The hosts managed to find three four-pointers in the second half, and conceded just one try via a kick to run out convincing winners.
They'll start heavy favourites against Corrimal this weekend, despite the Cougars breaking through for a victory of their own, and are odds-on to claim regular-season bragging rights.
It denied Collegians the minor premiership, and now leaves Peter Hooper's side vulnerable to dropping out of the top two at the final hurdle when they host Wests at home in the final round.
Mitch Jennings says:
"De La carried a lot of expectation into their second season in the Illawarra and, barring an indifferent run through the middle of the season, have lived up to the billing and will be deserved minor premiers if they get past Corrimal this week.
"No other side's fortunes have swung so heavily on the presence of a single player as De La's has on halfback Jack Williams, whose return from injury has sparked their strong run home. With he and Eli Lovido piloting the ship, they're in the title race up to their eyeballs.
"After looking to be coasting to the minor crown a fortnight ago, it would be bitterly disappointing to drop out of the major semi with a loss this weekend.
"Given how brutal matches between the top four have been as the season draws to a close, reaching the decider via the major semi-final may be vital to lifting the trophy on grand-final day."
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