Two tries in the final eight minutes including one with 90 seconds remaining saw the Wyong Roos stun the Illawarra Cutters 24-20 at WIN Stadium, Wollongong.
Poor discipline in the dying stages cost the home side with a penalty with two minutes remaining gifting the Roos great field position before prop Abraham Papalii tricked everyone to dive over from dummy half to snatch a nail biting win.
The Cutters couldn’t seal the victory despite a ten-to-six penalty count and a hat trick from Kiti Glymin with their lack of ball security towards the end of the game seeing them slump to their third straight loss.
Off the back of their rock-solid goal line defence, it was Illawarra who posted first points when an offload created space on the right edge for Glymin to go in for his first of the afternoon.
From a metre in from touch, youngster Shannon Crook used the left upright to give the home side a 6-0 lead after 15 minutes.
Despite numerous squandered opportunities in the Cutters’ red zone, the Roos finally converted field position into points when halfback Tyler Cornish saw an overlap on the left edge and set Nathan Stapleton up for his second try of the season.
An Illawarra knock on 40 metres out from their own line gifted the Roos perfect field position before Mitch Williams sniffed out the try line eight minutes from half time sending Wyong into the sheds up 10-6.
The opening stages of the second stanza was all the Cutters with the home side hammering the Roos goal line before the combination of Peter Mata’utai to Kiti Glymin struck again, levelling the scores up at 10 a piece.
As he did with his first attempt of the game Shannon Crook nailed the conversion from the sideline to give Illawarra a 12-10 lead with half an hour remaining.
The sin binning of Rory O’Brien two minutes later saw the scores levelled up once again at 12-all. However, it was the Cutters who ultimately came out on top a man down.
After ball handing errors in their first two opportunities with the man advantage, a 12-man Illawarra outfit struck with Glymin powering his way over for his third of the afternoon, giving the Cutters a 16-12 lead with 22 minutes remaining.
Back to back penalty goals by Crook in the 63rd and 67th minute extended the home sides lead out to 20-12 and looked a long way to wrapping up the two competition points.
However, it was Wyong’s defence who got them back in the game pinning Illawarra down their end of the park before Mitch Williams put Leivaha Pulu over on the short side to reduce the margin to just two points with seven minutes remaining following Nathan Stapleton’s successful conversion.
In a sloppy ending to the game that saw five consecutive sets end in an error, it was the Roos who came out on top.
A penalty on half way with two minutes remaining gave Wyong excellent field position before Abraham Papalii fooled everyone, burrowing his way over from dummy-half to steal a miraculous four-point victory.
Wyong Roos 24 (N Stapleton, M Williams, L Pulu, A Papalii tries; Stapleton 4 goals) bt Illawarra Cutters 20 (K Glymin 3 tries; S Crook 4 goals)