Butchers sitting top of the table at the half way point of the competition
As the June long weekend approaches so does the half way point of the Illawarra Rugby League Competition. The Butchers are the lone team on top of the competition ladder sitting on 14 points, 4 Points above Collies and Wests.
With only the 1 loss this season back in round 3 against Collies the Butchers have been the bench mark of the competition with there relentless go forward up the middle laying the foundations for their fringes to be so destructive and keep the score keeper busy for the full 80 minutes.
The talk has been all about the big mobile pack that the Butchers turn up with each week with the likes of Former NSW Blues prop Tim Grant, ex Nrl Prop Josh Starling and man mountain Frank Winterstein. The 2 props in TG and Starlo have been super impressive for the club with each carry as damaging as the next demanding +10m every time they cart the pig skin up.
The emergence of Jai Patterson at fullback has been something to watch, with the young gun being a standout each week for Jacko’s team. Jai has not only been safe under the high ball each week but his ability to score tries and chime in at the right time saw him be rewarded with an Illawarra u20s jersey earlier on in the season.
Tahj Whitford had big boots to fill this season, with Jack Payne heading back to France Thirroul needed a dominant Number 7, Tahj got given the opportunity by Jarrod Costello to take on the play making role, and with each week he seems to be relishing in the opportunity. Tahj has a wicked kicking game that each week puts the oppositions back 3 under pressure. The combination with Thirroul’s “Mr Fix it” Hayden Crossland seems to be getting slicker and I’m sure come the pointy end of the season they will have the polish that is required to be the best halves combination in the comp.
The best number 9 in the competition Ryan Fletcher has been in champagne form of late, for a player that hits like a fright train and plays well above his weight each week he must wake up super sore each Sunday after a big 80 mins and a gut full of beer from Saturday. Fletch has that ability to sniff out a lazy marker and picks his time better than anyone in the league to scoot out and make cheap meters, it’s a sight to see when the likes of TG and Starlo roll up the paddock and Flecth plays off the back of that and turns the middle of the field into his own playground.
Coach Costello has been able to deputise a few local juniors this season and the future looks bright for the Blue and White, with the likes of Jai Patterson, Toby Boothroyd, Ryan Couchman, Jaymon Tiata, Ammon Munroe and Kaleb Hocking all getting a taste of presidents Cup footy in the top grade.
A write up of the Butchers can’t be done without a wrap to Damien “The European Statue” Sironen. The Clubs captain Siro, who in my mind has been a best player in the competition so far this season has been instrumental in the Butchers success so far. Siro who has been ultra-busy on the fringes in defence and also attack causes so much trouble for the opposition who must shudder the thought of playing opposite him each week.
With close to a full squad back and ready for selection each week, coach Costello is in for a few sleepless nights and tough calls, this is a luxury that some coaches can only dream for. With a full squad back, this will also strengthen the lower grades for the remainder of the season.
Best of Luck to all Teams and players for the remainder of 2021
Up the Butchers