Helensburgh Tigers dominant in grand final rematch against Thirroul Butchers
Helensburgh have set a scorching pace to open the Illawarra Coal League season, producing a crushing 34-8 victory over Thirroul in a grand final rematch at Gibson Park on Saturday.
The Tigers ran in four unanswered tries in the second half after leading and exact some revenge on the Butchers in new captain-coach Luke Swain's first match in charge.
The clinical performance followed a 78-4 thrashing of Aquinas in the pre-season Challenge Cup leaving the Tigers with a 112-point tally in their past two games but coach Ryan Powell was most pleased with his side's effort without the football.
"I was probably most impressed with our defence," Powell said.
"Thirroul have some good attacking players there and they scored one try where a kick ricocheted off three blokes and ended up falling into their hands."
"Other than that, they couldn't break our line.
"We were well on top but in the last five minutes we were a bit sloppy and they had some ball on our line.
"It would have been easy to just let them score and finish the game comfortable winners but the guys hung in there ... they defended our line really well.
"We were pretty clinical and did a lot of things right."
Recruit Simon Maslanka scored a hat-trick in the victory while back-rower Chris Lewis - a late inclusion on the interchange bench - picked up a double but Powell gave most of the credit to halves Jarrod Boyle and Eamon Hillen.
"Simon and Chris were in the right spots at the right time but I think it was good footy from our halves," Powell said.
"I was really happy with the way our halves were organising them.
"It was good because they're on different sides of the field so both edges were running their plays well and getting them right.
"It's the bonus we've got with having mostly the same squad from last year.
"You can get on the front foot, we're not waiting for combinations to gel."
Thirroul opened the scoring with a penalty goal after five minutes but the Tigers hit back through Maslanka to lead 4-2 after 10 minutes. Maslanka's second pushed the lead out to 10-2 before Butchers young-gun Hayden Crosland swooped on a favourable bounce to cut the lead to 10-8 after 25 minutes.
It was the Butchers last joy of the match with Lewis crossing for his first to secure a 14-8 lead to the break.
Maslanka scored his third six minutes after the resumption after an spectacular aerial effort from Azan Turoa to pull down a kick from Boyle.
Tigers dominated thereafter there with Lewis, Boyle and Hayden McCrae all notching four pointers.
Elsewhere, Wests hammered Collegians 44-0 while Corrimal were edged out 22-18 by Dapto at Ziems Park.
This article originally appeared in the Illawarra Mercury on 12/4/2015