And now there are two
And now there are two.
Collegians and Helensburgh will clash in the Illawarra Coal Cup Grand Final at WIN Stadium on Sunday after the Tigers accounted for Wests 25-4 in the final at Collegians Sports Centre yesterday.
Collies already had won their way into the decider with a 30-28 win over the Tigers in the major semi-final at CSC last Sunday. So now the scene is set for a replay of that thriller to see who will be crowned 2013 premiers.
Sunday’s grand final will be the first premiership decider that Wests have not featured in for the past five years.
A new Illawarra Coal Cup champion will be crowned as the reigning premiers Thirroul were eliminated by Wests 20-14 in the minor semi-final at CSC last Saturday. It promises to be a cracking game as Collegians and Helensburgh completed the regular season equal on 22 points with the minor premiership being awarded to the Dogs because of a better for-and-against differential.
In yesterday’s final, the Burgh led the Devils 10-4 at half-time and went on with the job in the second term to book themselves a place in the premiership decider against the Dogs. Wests led for the only time in the game when five-eighth Clint Wright scored the opening try in the 16th minute when a kick into the in-goal rebounded and he was on the spot to score. Wright’s try came after a strong run up the middle by powerful winger Josh Goulton who was among the Devils’ best in a beaten side.
Wests applied more pressure and forced a Helensburgh goal line drop out but it came to nothing which was a sign of things to come as the Tigers produced a determined and committed defensive effort to keep the Devils scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Helensburgh’s first points came in the 25th minute when left winger Azan Turoa won the leap for a cross field bomb and subsequent quick hands resulted in second-rower Blake Phillips scoring near the posts for his fellow backrower Brock Gilmour to convert. Four minutes later the Tigers stretched their lead to 10-4 after right winger Wayne Bremner dived over in the corner after smart passing in the lead-up.
The Tigers went close to scoring again when they shifted the football wide to the left and Turoa was dragged down by desperate Wests defence centimetres short of the goal line. The Burgh released the pressure valve by conceding a penalty but Wests lost the ball on the first tackle to nullify any advantage they had of gaining. Again the Tigers were close to scoring whens halfback Eamon Hillen split the defence and dived over next to the posts in the 36th minute but referee Marcus Jennett was on the spot and ruled he lost the ball.
Wests then had a chance at the other end of the field when centre Brett Kelly won the leap from a bomb on the fifth tackle but his pass round intended for winger Zac JHill was blocked by Helensburgh defence. Right on half-time Turoa almost scored off a cross field kick into the Wests in-goal by five-eighth Jarrod Boyle leaving the Tigers ahead 10-4 at the break.
Helensburgh had a dream start to the second half when, in the 45th mnute, interchange player Khan Salamalakis scored and Boyle converted. When Wess spilt a bomb in front of their own posts Helensburgh attacked from a 10 metre scrum but did not complete the set and the Devils were off the hook for the time being.
Tigers captain Steve McCallum was flattend in a high tackle in the 52nd minute and helped from the field, taking no further part in the game but is expected to play in the grand final. Boyle missed the subsequent penalty shot.
Soon after the Tigers forced a line drop out, then Wests survived another anxious moment as a result of a grubber kick. Tigers centre James Newman was injured in the 58th minute and was assisted from the field. Unlike McCallum, he may be in some doubt for the premiership decider.
Helensburgh continued to dominate the final and almost immediately Boyle scored near the posts for Gilmour to add the extras for a 22-4 lead.
Whereas Helenburgh had allowed Collies to snatch a narrow victory in the major semi-final with two late tries, there was no way they were going to let Wests back into this game, with Hayden McCrae kicking a penalty goal in the 64th minute and Boyle a field goal in the 70th minute.
Wests tireless second-rower Trent Grubb was injured and helped off in the 72nd minute and Kelly was cautioned after a flare-up in the 77th minute, the ensuing penalty going to Helensburgh who played out time to complete a dominant performance on their way to a return showdown with Collies in the Big One. Player of the match was named as Grant Smith from Helensburgh.