Defeat cuts deep for Butchers
By Tim Keeble - Illawarra Mercury
Thirroul captain-coach Luke Swain lamented the Butchers' inability to execute in crunch time after Saturday's 30-24 loss to Wests at Parrish Park.
Despite building an early 6-0 lead, the Butchers lost their way, allowing veteran Wests forward Greg Reh to celebrate his club-record 222nd game with a victory.
Premiers in 2014, fourth-placed Thirroul remain in danger of missing this year's finals series.
Swain was deeply disappointed with his team's performance.
"That one hurts the most," he said. "It was one of those ones where you always think you're in with a shout, but if you don't earn it you don't get it."
Wests shrugged off their slow start to lead 18-6 at half-time and were always in control in the second half.
The Devils moved a step closer to clinching second spot, while the Butchers continue to struggle to find their identity three games out from the play-offs.
"It's not back to the drawing board, but we have to realise that just because we've got the troops it doesn't mean it's just going to happen," Swain said.
"We came in pretty confident because we were close to being at full strength for the first time all year. We still had second spot to play for if we'd won a few in a row, but it just didn't happen out there today.
"We came out and blitzed them early, but whether that got the better of us mentally or not, I'm not sure."
Swain said the Butchers were given a lesson in keeping it simple.
"They got the basics right and we got the basics wrong," he said.
"We talked a lot about not getting ahead of ourselves and to just keep plugging away, but they just played more consistent.
"The little indicators like enthusiasm and energy, we were starting to pick them up and string them together in games, but today the basics fell apart and it snowballed.
"The frustration crept in and it got away from us."
The Butchers aim to regroup quickly and bounce back in their round 14 road clash with Collegians.
Red-hot title favourites Helensburgh hurt Corrimal's chances for a post-season berth with a 40-24 triumph.