By Michelle Boon at Leichhardt Oval

The Wests Tigers recorded a hard-fought 24-16 win over the Illawarra Cutters at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday to move into 2nd spot on the VB NSW Cup table.

Illawarra drew first blood when fullback Tyron Cranston scored under the posts after 11 minutes, darting through a large hole down the left hand centres 10m out from the Tigers’ line and improving the position. Five eighth Sam Duggan converted to lead 6-0.

Nine minutes later Cutters’ second rower Josh Ailaomai crossed out wide off the back of a strong run from close range, proving too hard to stop from going over. Duggan’s conversion pushed the lead out to 12-0.

The Tigers replied with 13 minutes left through a strong charging run from replacement Andy Fiagatusa which saw him take defenders over with him from close range and touch down under the posts. Winger Corey Brown successfully converted to make the score 12-6.

Ten minutes later Tigers’ replacement Andrew Vela went over out wide following a loss of possession by the Cutters just metres out from their own line and they used the disorganised defence to their advantage giving Vela enough room to score. Brown added the extras to tie the game up at 12-all.

Right on half time Brown scored in the left hand corner using a well-crafted overlap to plunge over and with another spot-on kick they went into half time leading 18-12.

Conditions were starting to deteriorate and it was reflected out on the field, with both teams struggling to put points on the board in the early part of the half until Tigers’ five eighth Jarred Farlow crossed in the 16th minute, going over out wide charging through a gap close to the line off a repeat set in the Cutters’ 10m zone. Brown converted to extend the lead to 24-12.

With 18 minutes remaining Cutters’ second rower Peni Botiki scored out wide taking advantage of a yawning gap to stroll over untouched. Duggan failed to convert, leaving the score at 24-16 and the Tigers were able to find an answer to further Illawarra attacking raids to run out deserving winners at full time.

This weekend the Tigers face another top four opponent in the Wenty Magpies at Ringrose Park while the Cutters host Wyong at WIN Stadium.

Wests Tigers 24 (A Fiagatusa, A Vela, C Brown, J Farlow tries; C Brown 4 goals) def. Illawarra Cutters 16 (T Cranston, J Ailaomai, P Botiki tries; S Duggan 2 goals) at Leichhardt Oval.

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