Butchers, Tigers locked at 16-all
Mitch Jennings, Illawarra Mercury 14th April, 2014
Helensburgh and Thirroul couldn't be separated in a thrilling northern derby at Rex Jackson Oval on Saturday.
Thirroul five-eighth Nathan Wynn had the chance to break a 16-all deadlock with a sideline conversion after the siren but, in what were horrendous conditions for goal-kickers, the ball sailed wide, leaving both sides to share the points.
Helensburgh coach Ryan Powell said it was one that got away after the Tigers snatched a 16-12 lead with a late try to Taylor Fepuleai only to surrender possession in ensuing set and allow Butchers centre Damien Blanch to score the the leveller moments before the final bell.
"We'll take the one point but the game was there for us to win," Powell said.
"It's definitely one that got away but it probably feels like that for them as well.
"We did enough to win and then we came up with a dropped ball and they scored a try.
"We've got to learn from it."
Points were difficult to come by as both sides muscled up defensively and offered precious few opportunities in the first half.
The Tigers eventually broke through in the 25th minute when winger Wayne Bremner managed to knock-down and Eamon Hillen kick to Jordan Tencate for a 4-0 lead.
The Butchers hit back soon after when Nathan Wynn produced a beautiful cut-out pass for winger James Bannister to square the ledger at 4-4.
With momentum on their side, the Butchers took the lead through Reece Jaeger who scooped up a Jake Walsh long ball on the bounce to take an 8-4 half-time lead.
The Tigers took a 10-8 lead midway through the half when Azan Turoa flew high above Bannister to bring down Jarrod Boyle kick in the Butchers' in-goal.
The Butchers hit straight back through Jaeger who finished a sweeping backline move to take a 12-10 lead and send the game to the wire.
The Tigers looked to have snared the matchwinner when Fepuleai put Turoa away down the left flank and backed up on the inside to score with Hillen's conversion giving the Tigers a 16-12 lead inside the final minute.
The Tigers kick-off reception woes continued as they made yet another mistake coming out of trouble.
Blanch's try from the ensuing scrum just seconds before the siren gave Wynn the chance to pull the game out of the fire but, much to the delight of the Tigers fans on the balcony, the ball sailed wide.