Club: Illawarra Cutters
Record: 13-9-2 (+160)
Players Used in 2014: 46
Season Highlight: A round 17 26-0 shutout win over the Knights at WIN Jubilee which was seen around the country on Fox Sports
Season Lowlight: Losses in rounds 23 and 24 which saw them enter the finals having not tasted victory for four weeks after they had the bye in round 25. This was evident in their 42-6 loss at the hands of the Panthers in week one of the finals.
Summary: The Cutters were one of the more fascinating stories to emerge out of the 2014 season with a number of highs and lows seeing the club experiencing the full gamut of emotions.
A coaching swap mid-season that saw Ian Millward replaced by Scott Logan was soon followed by the loss of two key playmakers in Michael Witt (Injury/Retirement) and Sam Williams (Super League). But despite these interruptions that would have perhaps derailed other clubs campaigns, the Cutters rallied and put together a pretty fair showing.
Following the departure of Witt and Williams, players like Drew Hutchison, Kyle Eather, Sam Duggan and Kyle Stanley all took turns at steering this side around the park and for the most part they did a very good job.
Duggan and Eather in particular were largely unheralded when the season kicked off but they along with others such as Chris Lewis and Tyrone Cranston proved to be diamonds in the rough for the Cutters as the season unfolded.
While the Cutters got plenty of production out of some of their so called lesser lights, plenty of others also contributed in a positive fashion. Up in the engine room Shannon Wakeman continues to look like an NRL prospect in the making while Rory O’Brien also continued his development with some strong performances while out wide Yaw Kiti Glymin, Nathan Green and Charly Runciman all had decent years.
The Cutters’ 2014 season was admirable – their dog-on-a bone competitiveness usually resulted in them being right in the contest up until the final whistle. With five of their nine losses during the regular season coming by a margin of eight points or less, and then factor in two draws and host of tight wins and you get a better understanding why the Cutters were such a tough proposition for their opponents each and every week.
A preliminary final loss eventually ended the Cutters season but they would have taken some solace from the fact that both of their finals losses were to the eventual Grand Finalists in the Panthers and Knights. In fact the Cutters split their two regular season matches against Newcastle and although they lost to the Panthers twice during the regular season, the combined margin of those losses were just seven points.
Based on the above it must be said that their eventual finishing position of fourth is probably a pretty fair reflection of their season. Ultra-competitive against almost all opposition but perhaps slightly outclassed by the top couple of sides.
Conclusion: A similar story to a number of the sides that finished around them… a good season that may have delivered more but all in all would still be considered a success.