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Butchers outlast Collegians to secure opening round win


Illawarra Mercury 
Story by: Mitch Jennings April 27 2019


The visiting Dogs led 12-4 at halftime and 18-16 with under 10 minutes remaining before Butchers centre Callum Tutauha swooped a loose ball to grab the go-ahead try with six minutes left.

It came after the visitors spent a large chunk of the second half with just 11 men on the park, with prop Matt Shepherd and utility Paul Roberts both sent to the sin-bin by referee Ryan Jackson for dissent midway through the second stanza.

Collies conceded just one try with the pair off the field and looked likely to snatch the two points when Alec Reid crossed for this third try of the afternoon, with Jack Cross converting for a two-point lead.

However, the fickle football gods had more in store for Reid – who was the best player on the park – with the diminutive No. 1 spilling a grubber from Jake Walsh in his own in-goal for Tutauha’s four-pointer.

It grabbed an important two points for the Butchers ahead of a round-two bye, but coach coach Jarrod Costello says his side will have plenty of work to do in the week off.

“We got the two points but it wasn’t a great performance from us,” Costello said.

“We missed the jump, we didn’t start well at all and tried to take a few easier options instead of going end to end with them.

“I think in the first half we ran away from the fight a little bit and and tried to pass our way out of trouble and off-load our way out of trouble instead of going set for set.

“We addressed it at halftime and as soon as we started doing that we looked OK. There’s still plenty to work on but we’ll take it.”

Costello did reserve praise for his key men down the stretch, saying his side got back in the match off the boot of halfback Jake Walsh.

“For half the spine it was their first game together,” he said.

“We were a little bit disjointed but there were some periods there where we were pretty good, I thought Walshy’s kicking game at different stages was good. It turned the tempo at the end there for us.

“He got us field position, he was composed and we ended up getting the last try off one of his kicks so, it wasn’t perfect, but there were some positives there as well.”

The final try wasn’t the first tough bounce of the second 40 for the Dogs, with Jay Gallagher scoring barely a minute into the second half after charging down a clearing kick from Jarrod Boyle.

He raced 50 metres to score and immediately cut the eight-point halftime deficit to two. It followed a first half largely dominated by Collies, with centre Brad Manton crossing after a first-set error from Damien Sironen for a 4-0 lead after just three minutes.

The Butchers hit back back came through Hayden Crosland after a break from Gallagher put the hosts on the attack. Luke Gallagher hooked the attempted conversion keeping things locked at four apiece after 17 minutes.

Reid grabbed his first try off a deft pass from Boyle 14 minutes before the break and had his second on the stroke of halftime, again on an assist from Boyle.

Cross’s tough day off the tee kept the score at 12-4 at the interval, with Gallagher’s try putting a dent in the margin barely a minute into the second stanza.

Tom Simpson crossed soon after Shepherd was marched to take the lead and had his sights set on a second 10 minutes later only to be crunched in a try-saver from Reid.

The livewire fullback grabbed his hat-trick two minutes later to hit the front but it wasn’t the Dogs afternoon. Coach Nathan Fien said he couldn’t be prouder of his side’s fight to give themselves a chance late in the piece.

“It’s hard place to go and play footy and we knew we were going to be up against it just with the environment we were in,” Fien said.

“Some of the sin-binnings were very, very questionable but it is what it is. With what the guys were able to deal with in terms of adversity that was thrown at us, I’m really happy.

“In the first half we were well in control of the game, we completed 17 of 19 sets and you can’t ask much more than that. They got momentum in that second half and it was just hard to pull them up.

“With the penalty count what it was, any footy side that can hang in there and give themselves a chance under those circumstances you’ve got to take your hat off to.

“We showed a lot of character to get to the front again. At the end of the day we weren’t good enough but I’m really pumped with the way they handled things and I’m as excited as ever about the season ahead.”

Elsewhere in the league, Helensburgh overcame an early 10-6 deficit to lead Dapto 18-12 at halftime at Rex Jackson Oval.

They went on with it in the second, pushing the lead out to 32-12 before a pair of late tries to the Canaries brought the final margin to 32-24.

Corrimal completed a strong round for home sides notching just their second win in more than two season, 28-12, over Berkeley at Ziems Park.

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