By Clarinda Campbell
The NZ Warriors held on for a 35-28 victory despite a spirited comeback from the Illawarra Cutters at WIN Jubilee Oval on Saturday afternoon.
In a game of contrasting halves, the NZ Warriors appeared to have put the result beyond doubt at half-time, scoring five converted tries to the Cutters one. However, in the second-half the Cutters came home with the proverbial wet sail to almost steal the win away from the Warriors.
The Cutters were disappointing in the first half, failing to translate a number of scoring opportunities to points. In a stark contrast, the Warriors were flawless and punished the Illawarra side, making the most of every chance they were afforded.
The Warriors put the first points on the board in the 11th minute when forward Nathaniel Peteru grabbed a short ball from Feleti Mateo and dived through a gap near the posts. Chad Townsend slotted the first of five conversions to give the Warriors a 6-0 lead.
In the 16th minute of play Tuimoala Lolohea displayed some fancy footwork to step around the Cutters defence and score. The Warriors were over again six minutes later when full-back Kevin Locke sprinted away to score a try in his first game for 2014.
With 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the Warriors piled on another two tries through a double to Carlos Tuimavave.
The Cutters finally opened their account in the 39th minute when Sam Williams put Charly Runciman through a hole, granting him a saloon passage to the line. Kyle Stanley was able to convert to finalise the half-time score at 30-6 in favour of the Warriors.
After the break, the Cutters had to score first and they did through an impressive try just eight minutes into the second stanza via a 70 metre Peter Matu’utia intercept try. Stanley converted to bring the margin down to 18.
The Warriors hit back five minutes later when Agnatius Paasi carried numerous defenders over the line for a barnstorming four-pointer. Townsend failed to convert and the score read 34-12.
The Cutters dominated the next 15 minutes of play, scoring three tries through Charlie Faingaa, Willie Mataka and Kiti Glymin. The most impressive was the Glymin try as it came off a well-placed cross-field kick from Sam Williams. Stanley converted two of the three tries to bring the score to 34-28 in favour of the Warriors.
In the final minutes the Cutters desperately tried to fashion an equaliser without success. With just 40 seconds left on the clock, Warriors half Chad Townsend kicked a field goal to put the result beyond doubt, allowing the Warriors to depart Kogarah with a 35-28 win.
The Cutters head down to their Wollongong home on Saturday to play host to the Sea Eagles at WIN Stadium while the Warriors will look to continue their good form when they head to Henson Park to face the Jets.
New Zealand Warriors 35 (C Tuimavave 2, K Locke, T Lolohea, A Paasi, N Peteru tries; C Townsend 5 goals; C Townsend field goal) def. Illawarra Cutters 28 (P Mata'utia, C Runciman, K Glymin, W Mataka, C Faingaa tries; K Stanley 4 goals) at WIN Jubilee Oval.
Click here to view the VB NSW Cup ladder