Helensburgh maintain dominance as Thirroul trip up
By Mitch Jennings - Illawarra Mercury
It wasn't pretty but Helensburgh continued their dominance at the top of the Illawarra Coal League ladder with a come-from-behind 18-12 victory over Thirroul at Gibson Park on Saturday.
The Tigers trailed 12-0 at the break, with all points to five-eighth Ty McCarthy, as the Butchers produced their best half of football so far this season.
But poor ball control at crucial stages cost the home side, with the Tigers producing two tries in four minutes, both directly from Butchers mistakes.
They scored their third eight minutes later and were never headed despite a late charge from the defending premiers.
"We didn't get much right in the first half and they all knew that," Tigers coach Ryan Powell said.
"We weren't proud of that first-half performance but in the second half we ran in 18 unanswered points, so I can't rap them enough.
"It ended up being a dogfight in the end ... but we'll take the two points."
Thirroul captain-coach Luke Swain will be left frustrated that his side was on top in the contest for longer periods of the game only to come up short on the scoreboard.
McCarthy was close to best on ground and makeshift half Joel Johnson wasn't far behind.
The Butchers remain locked in a three-way battle with Corrimal and Dapto for the bottom two spots in the top four.
They will be without star forward Trent Waterhouse, who missed Saturday's match, for up to four weeks, but may have found a replacement in Dragons discard Addin Fonua-Blake, who made his first appearance for the Butchers since having his contract torn up by the NRL club three weeks ago.
The 20-year-old made his presence felt in the second half as the Butchers looked for a leveller.
Thirroul enjoyed precious little field position in the first half but defended stoutly in the face of an onslaught from the visitors.
McCarthy crossed from a deft inside ball from Johnson the first time Thirroul travelled to the Tigers end. They came back with two more points from a penalty goal and landed a major blow when McCarthy crossed from a deft offload from Matt Syron 30 seconds before half-time.
It was all the Burgh after the break with Steve McCallum barging his way across in the 53rd minute after a Butchers error and Simon Maslanka levelled the scores at 12-12 four minutes later.
Matt Riccio also crossed for the Tigers with 18 minutes to play for what proved the match-winning try.
Dapto had little trouble accounting for Corrimal 14-0 at Ziems on Friday night, while Wests bounced back from a last-start loss to beat Collegians 31-10.