Helensburgh take out Challenge Cup final
By Tim Keeble / The Illawarra Mercury
Premiership it ain’t, but the trophy-starved Helensburgh Tigers finally collected a piece of silverware with a comprehensive 24-4 defeat of Thirroul in Sunday’s Challenge Cup final at Figtree.
Rangy five-eighth Jarrod Boyle spearheaded the win, scoring the game’s opening try and setting up the second with a well-placed kick to ensure the Tigers played from in front.
‘‘With some of our senior players out, I just thought I had to take the boys forward and do as much as I can,’’ Boyle said.
‘‘There’s a few tired legs with seven of us backing up from [rep duty] yesterday, so it was a massive effort. I couldn’t be prouder.’’
A 6-0 quarter-time lead swelled to 14-0 at half-time, as the Burgh dominated with defence as much as they did with their attack.
The Tigers hope their mid-season success propels them to their first Illawarra premiership in 22 years.
‘‘It’s about time,’’ Boyle said.
‘‘Hopefully we can go one better and win a grand final fourth time lucky.’’
Needing a good start in the second half, the Butchers couldn’t crack their opponents’ defence.
When Helensburgh captain Steve McCallum crashed over beside the posts with 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter, the game was as good as over.
Thirroul eventually went over for a try in the corner through Damien Blanch three minutes from full-time, but the Tigers had the final say with winger Sitiveni Moceidreke’s try from a last-second grubber kick.
‘‘Our forwards dominated and made it a lot easier for us halves,’’ Boyle said.
‘‘We were happy they didn’t go through us. They scored one crappy try around us when we had 12 on the field, so we weren’t worried about that. The main thing was that they didn’t break our line.
‘‘We knew we had to start off strong because we’d probably run out of legs at the end with seven of us backing up.’’
Helensburgh coach Ryan Powell said his side’s strong character shone through.
‘‘I came here today not sure what was going to happen with all those guys backing up, and they all led the side around well,’’ Powell said.
‘‘We had 22 guys train for the squad on Thursday ready for today, and the guys that came up and filled in some holes did a great job. It’s not a grand final but it’s a great reward for the club at this stage of the season.’’
Thirroul captain-coach Luke Swain offered no excuses.
‘‘They’re just a good solid team and they play consistent football,’’ Swain said.
‘‘They hold the ball, they run hard and they get quick play-the-balls. They just roll teams and they rolled us today.
‘‘It’s disappointing. We took the game very seriously and gave it the credit it deserved. It was a good chance for us to get our topsy-turvy season back on track. It’s disappointing that we couldn’t take it to the next level and we couldn’t go with them.
‘‘We’ve had a couple of losses in a row now. We need to get back on track and find our mojo.’’