By Adam Kidd
The Ilawarra Cutters scored an emphatic victory over the North Sydney Bears at WIN Stadium on Saturday, with a four try first-half setting up a convincing 38-6 win.
Sam Williams and Michael Witt were instrumental for the home side, with the halves pairing continually taunting the North Sydney defence with deft passing and pin-point kicking games in difficult conditions.
It was Williams who set up the Cutters first try with the halfback going to the line and splitting the defence before finding Josh Ailaomai backing up on the inside for a try underneath the uprights.
Just six minutes later, it was Williams and Witt who combined to increase the Cutters lead with a deft Witt kick being spilt by Curtis Johnston and cleaned up by Junior Tia Kilifi for a 12-point lead.
From the ensuing set of six, the Cutters worked the ball upfield before Peter Mata'Utia, who was a constant threat to the Bears defence, split the defence and found Witt who delivered a beautiful long ball to the arms of Nathan Green to score the Cutters third try in nine minutes.
Amazingly the Cutters almost scored from the ensuing set once again, but Charly Runciman spilt a ball from Sam Williams who had found his way through the Bears defence.
North Sydney went close to scoring their first try when Lote Tuqiri threatened close to the line, but the Cutters defence was up to the challenge and denied the former dual-international from posting his side's first points.
Williams and Witt were in the action once again before half-time, with the duo crafting a beautiful back line movement to pave the way for Charly Runciman to beat two defenders before touching down in the corner for a 22-0 half time lead.
Mata'utia almost went from hero to villain within minutes of the second-half being underway; when he carved a hole through the Bears defence on his first run before spilling a grubber on the return set from the Bears that almost lead to a try.
Runciman completely brushed off a nervous first half with a bullocking effort to score his second try eight minutes later, when he held off a number of defenders to score in the corner for a 28-0 lead.
As both teams worked hard to gain the ascendancy over the next ten minutes, it appeared as though the Cutters had shifted down a gear or two and were content to play through their sets before robust forward Shannon Wakeman exploded through a gap in the North Sydney defence to link with Shane Pumipi to extend the lead to 34-0.
Minutes later the Cutters put the icing on the cake with a try to Kiti Glymin, who showed tremendous strength to hold off Lote Tuqiri several times, to touch down in the corner.
As the full-time siren sounded it was the Bears who scored their first and only try with Aaron Gray beating some tired cover defence to gain something from what was a tough day at the office.
Ian Millward would be pleased with his side’s efforts, in particular the form of Williams and Witt and also Mata'utia, who made a habit of beating the first defender on almost every occasion. For the Bears, it was unfortunately 'one of those days' and they will have their sights set on next week when they take on Wyong at North Sydney Oval.
The Cutters will enjoy the bye next week, before aiming for three-straight wins when they take on the New Zealand Warriors at WIN Jubilee Oval.
Illawarra Cutters 38 (C Runciman 2, J Tia Kilifi, N Green, K Glymin, S Pumipi, J Ailomai tries; M Witt 5 goals) def. North Sydney Bears 6 (A Gray try; K Aldridge goal) at WIN Stadium, Wollongong.