By Clarinda Campbell

Dynamic five-eighth and new Wests Tigers recruit Blake Austin was unstoppable for the Wests Tigers at WIN Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers defeated the Illawarra Cutters 34-14 and Austin starred scoring 22 of those points.

The match featured a number of errors and penalties as players dusted off the cobwebs. First points went to the Cutters after seven minutes. Sam Williams, playing his first game for the Cutters, showed some nice ball-playing skills to place a well-timed kick for Cutters winger Kiti Glymin to go over on the Cutters right-hand side. Williams converted from the sideline to give the Cutters a 6-0 lead.

The Cutters were ahead 10-0 five minutes later with Williams again featuring, throwing a nice cut-out pass to Peter Mata’utia who showed great athleticism to get the ball down in the corner. 

The Tigers hit back through a strong run by winger Taqele Naiyaravoro, who scored a try off a Ben Murdoch-Masila pass. With the conversion unsuccessful, the Cutters were still ahead 10-4.

By the twenty minute mark the Cutters extended their lead to 14-4 when Glymin secured his second try of the match after an enterprising passage of football. Surrounded by defenders, Glymin grubbered the ball and regathered to score in the corner. Williams was unable to add the extras and that try was the last time the Cutters would trouble the scorers.

At this stage of the game, Austin came to the fore. After receiving the ball from a Cutters penalty, the Tigers went on the attack with Austin running the ball confidently. Ten metres out from the line, Austin showed the ball and elected to go himself, cutting a swathe through the Cutters defence to place the ball neatly behind the posts. He converted his own try with ease and the Tigers were on the come-back, abbreviating the margin to four points.

Austin featured again just before half-time with a clever 40/20 kick. This gave the Tigers momentum and when the tiring Cutters defence left a huge gap, Austin took advantage of this to sail through and nab his second try of the afternoon. He converted to give the Tigers a 16-14 lead at half-time.

The second half was all the Tigers, as they took advantage of some lacklustre Cutters defence. Just five minutes in, Austin started where he left off, spearing through the Cutters line to score his third try. He added the extras to increase the Tigers lead, with the score now 20-14.

Austin put centre Corey Brown into a hole in the 62nd minute, with the converted try taking the Tigers score to 28.

The Tigers were in again after Cutters hooker Shane Pumipi dropped a high ball, quickly followed by a penalty that gave the Tigers a repeat set in their attacking half. Murdoch-Masila charged through the Cutters defence to score the last try of the game. Austin easily converted to bring the Tigers tally to 34 and securing them a 20 point win.

This weekend the Tigers host the Sharks out at Campbelltown on Saturday afternoon while the Cutters head to Eden Park to take on the Warriors.

Wests Tigers 34 (B Austin 3, B Murdoch Masila, C Brown, T Naiyaravoro tries; B Austin 5 goals) def. Illawarra Cutters 14 (K Glymin 2, P Mata’utia tries; S Williams goal) at WIN Stadium.