Key pair reunite for Illawarra league showdown

By Mitch Jennings - Illawarra Mercury

If form is anything to go by, Wests have the two key ingredients in halves Daniel Holdsworth and Nathan Dureau to secure the club's 16th premiership on Sunday.

The pair have played together only sparingly this season with both battling injuries but were reunited to good effect in the Devils 28-26 major semi-final victory over the Tigers two weeks ago.

It was the second time this season they orchestrated a win over Helensburgh after upsetting them at home in round five.

It leaves a surprise loss to Dapto in round two the only blemish in their fruitful season.

Holdsworth has, no doubt, been the buy of the year, with his kicking game the trump card in Wests' success.

Sunday provides a shot at a premiership that has eluded him his entire senior career, with the Bulldogs' 37-20 preliminary final loss to eventual premiers Brisbane in 2006 the closest he's come to a grand-final berth.

After an up-and-down season, Holdsworth feels the Devils are finding the right gear at the business end of the year.

"I think our best footy's still to come ... hopefully this weekend," Holdsworth said.

"It's my first taste of this kind of comp and the season's been a bit stop-start which didn't suit us as a team.

"We didn't really get into that grind of week-to-week footy but it's promising we're still improving and building at the right end of the season."

Holdsworth said his partnership with Dureau had developed well despite limited playing time.

"We've trained a fair bit together but we're just getting a bit old, I guess, and injuries are part of it," Holdsworth said.

"We haven't played a lot together but I enjoy playing with him. He complements my game really well."

Dureau, veteran of the club's all-conquering 2009-11 era under Dragons coach Paul McGregor, made a timely return in the major semi-final producing a best on-ground performance despite a month-long layoff with a quad strain.

"In those big games, you've got to throw it all on the line and really take them on so that's how I went about it," Dureau said

"With DJ there I can just focus on my own game. Instead of trying to do a little bit of his job and him doing a little bit of mine, we can relax a bit and play our natural game."

Helensburgh boast fair pair of their own in Country reps Jarrod Boyle and Eamon Hillen, with the play-making battle sure to go a long way to determining who lifts the trophy at full-time.

"We know what they're capable of but we've just been working our own game," Dureau continued.

"That's all you can do for these big games.

"It's two-each so far so it's going to be a really great battle."


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2018 Hardware Man Illawarra League First Grade
1 Wests 23
2 Thirroul 23
3 Collegians 22
4 Dapto 20
5 Berkeley 12
6 Helensburgh 8
7 Corrimal 4