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Butchers outlast Collegians to end nine-year drought

The Thirroul Butchers have defeated Collegians 24-18 in a down-to-the-wire Grand Final to claim their first Mojo Homes Illawarra Cup since 2014. 

By Bailey Whitton

The Butchers went the long way around to get to the Grand Final, coming from fourth and defeating the Western Suburbs Devils as well as Minor Premiers De La Salle to get there. 

Thirroul capitalised on a penalty for a high tackle, earning themselves a repeat set. They kept the pressure up in the next set, allowing Bradley Deitz to burrow over from dummy-half and score the first try for the Butchers in just five minutes. 

In the 13th minute Collegians would strike back, as fullback Callum Gromnek stepped through a tackle on halfway, dummied to his winger and zig-zagged through defenders to score a spectacular solo try. 

The Butchers tried another early kick to shift momentum, but it went into touch on the full, letting Collegians start their set in Thirroul's half. 

The Butchers rushed Collegians, forcing them to fling the ball back to keep the set alive. The pressure forced a mistake, only for Foster to dive on the ball and take lead to 12-6. 

In the 33rd minute the Butchers scored with an attacking bomb. Both teams contested and the Butchers regained the ball after Collegians had played at it, earning a new set. Thirroul quickly sent the ball left and winger Jye Patterson scored, taking the scores to 12-all. 

Keen to keep the lead, Collegians hit back on the right edge. The Butchers tried to stop them with a strip, but the ball spun out and gave Collegians six more tackles, sending Gromek through for a double and sending the game into halftime at 18-12.

The Butchers attacked early in the second half, probing Collegians' defence and forcing a drop-out, before a grubber for Monty Raper in the 52nd minute tied the game back up. 

A Collegians strip in the 64th minute tested the Butchers' resolve, but Thirroul held them out. Butchers centre Cooper Bowen, who collected his own kick in the following set and scored what proved to be the match-winner. 

In their last shot before time ran out Collegians set up to go left, but Steven Marsters intercepted the ball, ending the game and fulfilling the Butchers' Grand Final dreams, coming away with the 24-18 win.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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