By Chloe Olivian
In the battle for first place of the VB NSW Cup competition, Wentworthville staged a second half comeback to beat the Illawarra Cutters 36-30 in an entertaining game at Pirtek Stadium.
A handling error from the Illawarra Cutters saw Wentworthville open the scoring after just 90 seconds of play. Luke Kelly was able to hold the ball up long enough for full-back Justin Hunt to latch on to the ball and score wide out. Kelly added the extras to make it 6-0.
The Cutters hit back in the sixth minute when Hunt failed to take a high bomb from Sam Williams. Prop forward Rory O'Brien was on the spot to collect the loose ball and crash over for the try. Michael Witt kicked the goal to square up proceedings at 6-all.
Illawarra grabbed the lead when a strong tackle from Charly Runciman on Ryan Morgan saw the ball come loose. Williams picked up the ball and raced 55 metres to scores. Witt's conversion saw the visitors leading 12-6.
Wenty replied in the 22nd minute when they decided to run the ball on the last tackle. Kelly linked up with Morgan who in turn passed to Bureta Faraimo. The winger was able to use his strength to score in the corner. Kelly kicked a magnificent touchline conversion to level the scores at 12-all.
On the back of a penalty, Wentworthville worked their way to their opposition's try line before Hunt took on the defence, going through Willie Mataka and Shannon Wakeman before taking Kyle Eather over the line where he was able to plant the ball down. Kelly had no trouble with the conversion, putting the Magpies ahead 18-12.
But it was 18-all after 35 minutes when Farasimo knocked on a high kick from Williams. The kicker casually collected the spoils to score behind the posts. Witt kicked the goal to send the teams all tied up at half-time.
It took just two minutes of the second half for Illawarra to score with Runciman scoring wide out. Witt's goal saw them ahead 24-18.
Another penalty saw the Cutters on the attack and they extended their lead when Williams split the defence before sending Mataka over for the try. Witt kicked the goal to give his side a 30-18 advantage.
Hunt went close to scoring in the 53rd minute but was tackled just inches short. It didn't matter as Fui Fui Moi Moi crashed over on the following tackle. Kelly kicked the goal to make the deficit just six points.
Three minutes later, winger Henry Raiwalui raced down the sideline to score after getting a great off-load from Vai Toutai. Kelly couldn't convert, leaving Illawarra with a two point lead.
A great break from Hunt put Wenty on the attack with Morgan heading back inside to score in the 70th minute. Kelly kicked his fifth goal of the day to put the Magpies in the lead 34-30.
Kelly kicked a penalty goal in the 77th minute to put his side ahead by a converted try. It was enough for the home side to hang on and collect the two competition points.
Wentworthville will have the bye this weekend while the Cutters will be in action once again when they head to Henson Park on Saturday to tackle the Jets.
Wentworthville Magpies 36 (J Hunt 2, B Faraimo, H Raiwalui, R Morgan, F Moi Moi tries; L Kelly 6 goals) def. Illawarra Cutters 30 (S Williams 2, C Runciman, W Mataka, R O'Brien tries; M Witt 5 goals) at Pirtek Stadium.