By Jackson Russell at Aubrey Keech Reserve
The Illawarra Cutters solidified their position in the top eight with an entertaining away win over Mounties 25-18 at Aubrey Keech Reserve last Saturday.
The match started off with what was to become a trend of the first half when the Mounties left side attack exposed the Cutters defence for Bill Tupou to go over untouched in the corner for a 4-0 lead.
Illawarra were trying to regroup and looked for a touch finder from a penalty but some acrobatics from Ryan Carr kept the ball in play and found Mounties on the attack. A quick movement of the hand and Tupou had his second in the corner to move the game to 8-0.
Mounties gained another attacking opportunity and again it was the same result, Bill Tupou going over for a hat trick after 20 minutes and a 14-0 lead.
The score line didn’t reflect how close the match had been and the Cutters next attacking raid showed that with scheming hooker Craig Garvey slipping through the defence to get his side on the board at 14-6.
The Cutters were now looking dangerous with the ball and it wasn’t long before bulldozing lock Shannon Wakeman muscled through to tighten things up at 14-12.
With five minutes still to play in the half, Illawarra looked like they weren’t done yet with breaks through debutant Drew Hutchinson and veteran Geoff Daniela however final passes didn’t stick to end what was an exciting first half.
Illawarra came out of the sheds looking confident and soon hit the front as Wakeman made a bust from 30 meters out to go over under the posts and make it 18-14.
Now looking to take the game away from Mounties fullback Kyle Eather found space and combined with Tyron Cranston who touched down next to the posts as the Cutters moved to 24-14.
Mounties weren’t done with this match yet as Bill Tupou wrestled with Cutters defenders and found the line for his fourth try of the afternoon. Mounties were back in the hunt at 24-18.
In the final 15 minutes chances were a plenty as Mounties looked to tie things up. Hooker Matt Mcllwrick in particular looked likely to cause Illawarra trouble but strong defence kept Mounties at bay. Kyle Eather was peppered with kicks into his in goal but handled each task that came his way with aplomb.
In the closing stages, the Cutters gained field position and the ball went to five-eight Sam Duggan who cooly slotted a field goal to give Illawarra a 25-18 win and cap off a great afternoon of Rugby League.
Next week see’s Mounties trying to turn their form around in Saturday’s television game against the West Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium. While Illawarra will be heading to Brookvale Oval to face Manly and continue their positive performances.
Illawarra Cutters 25 (S Wakeman 2, T Cranston, C Garvey tries; S Duggan 4 goals; S Duggan field goal) def. Mounties 18 (B Tupou 4 tries; M Cornish goal) at Aubrey Keech Reserve.