The Western Suburbs Red Devils have exacted revenge on their arch-rivals Collegians for their 2022 Illawarra Rugby League grand final loss, by virtue of a 22-10 victory at the Collegians Sports Complex on Saturday afternoon.

The Collie Dogs were a man down for the majority of the match after centre Callan Briggs was sent off for dissent, when a sin bin to prop Joshua Dowel for a high tackle reduced the side further to 11 men,.

The Devils took advantage, running in four tries to two to hold their place at the top of the Illawarra Rugby League ladder, alongside De La Salle. 

Wests halfback, Justin Rodrigues said that whilst it “felt good” to defeat their rivals, the match paled in significance to the “horrible” Grand Final loss last year.

“Nothing quite ever feels like a Grand Final win,” he said.

“So whilst it feels good to finally beat them, it’s not the exact feeling of a Grand Final obviously.”

While the team came away with the 2 points, Rodrigues said the win was not a great indicator of his side’s strength given the fact that they beat an undermanned side.

“In all honesty we weren’t at our best today,” he said.

“For ten minutes of the game we were playing against 11 men.

“So I guess that was the big turning point in today’s contest.”

With wins previously against Dapto, Corrimal and Thirroul, along with a draw against De La Salle, the Red Devils’ victory against the Collie Dogs has seen them complete the opening third of the season undefeated.

However, Rodrigues said the club was remaining focused on the end of the campaign and finals.

“I guess it’s a stepping stone for later in the year for us,” he said.

“That’s the way we see today, a stepping stone for the business end of the season.”

On the other side of the ledger, after initially leading the competition with three wins to start the year, Collegians have now lost two games in a row.

Collegians lock, Jarrod Thompson said that whilst the result was disappointing, the most important thing is for the team to “learn from their losses” before the finals roll around.

“Every year changes with different teams and players coming in and out,” he said.

“But it’s early days and competitions aren’t won in May, so we’re not too worried about the result.”

Collegians now sit in third place, a game and a half behind the leaders a third of the way into the season.

Meanwhile, in other Round 5 games, Thirroul defeated Dapto 32-10 and De La Salle defeated Corrimal 30-16.