By Nathan Beuman at North Sydney Oval
The Illawarra Cutters have continued their charge up the VB NSW Cup table, knocking off the North Sydney Bears 26-12 in cold and windy conditions at North Sydney Oval.
Going up against the best defensive side in the competition, the Bears added experienced first graders Luke Burgess, Apisai Koroisau and Bryson Goodwin to their line-up pre-match, as they desperately looked to avoid their eighth straight loss.
While North Sydney occupied the majority of the possession in the opening quarter of the match, it was the Cutters who scored first points in the 20th minute, when Dylan Farrell put Yaw Kiti Glymin over on the right edge.
Kicking from the eastern sideline, Kyle Stanley was unable to convert, leaving the score at 4-0 after 21 minutes.
Despite North Sydney holding up Illawarra in the in-goal on back to back plays, it was interchange player Josh Ailaomai who provided the spark for the Cutters, getting his right arm free before passing the ball away to second rower Chris Lewis, who went over for his first of the afternoon.
This time from the opposite side of the field, Stanley was again unable to add the extras, keeping the score at 8-0 after 33 minutes and leaving the door very much open for a North Sydney comeback.
The Bears did just that two minutes later, when Koroisau put Chris Grevsmuhl over just to the left of the uprights, before Goodwin’s conversion brought North Sydney back to within two points right on half time.
The versatility of Luke Burgess was shown just after the break, when the 27 year old burrowed his way over from dummy half to give the Bears their first points of the game, before Goodwin pushed the score out to 12-8 following the conversion five minutes into the second half.
Once again, a poor passage of play by North Sydney gave the Cutters ideal field position, when Lewis passed inside to Joel Johnson in the 55th minute, giving the visitors a 14-12 lead following Sam Duggan’s conversion.
The Bears looked certain to take back the lead five minutes later when they created a big overlap out on the right flank, with winger Mark O’Dare diving over before the touch judge put his flag up.
The Cutters used the wind to their advantage five minutes before full time, kicking a 40/20, before Duggan linked up with fullback Kyle Eather who dived over 20 metres in from touch, leaving Stanley an easy conversion to extend Illawarra’s lead out to 20-12 with four minutes remaining.
Chris Lewis capped off a best of ground performance with his second try of the game courtesy of a pass from Duggan, before Stanley’s conversion after the siren gave the Cutters a comprehensive 26-12 victory.
The win for Illawarra sees them jump up to third position ahead of the Wests Tigers thanks to their superior for and against, while North Sydney’s eighth straight loss sees them anchored at the bottom of the competition table.
This weekend the Cutters will be back in Wollongong when they face Wenty at WIN Stadium while the Bears head out to Campbelltown to tackle the Tigers.
Illawarra Cutters 26 (C Lewis 2, K Eather, Y Kiti Glymin, J Johnson tries; K Stanley 2, S Duggan goals) def. North Sydney Bears 12 (C Grevsmuhl, L Burgess tries; B Goodwin 2 goals) at North Sydney Oval.