It was a performance unseen from the Cutters in 2015.
Saturday’s 24-14 victory over the Wests Tigers was by far Illawarra’s most convincing display this season.
A resilient defensive effort laid the foundation in a match the Cutters always looked in control of.
Their second win of the year showed off their true potential. Having shown glimpses in the opening rounds, the Cutters, led by a Man of the Match performance from big man Rory O’Brien, simply out enthused and outmuscled their opposition.
The Cutters drew first blood in the seventh minute when hooker Craig Garvey found Shannon Wakeman with a deft pass close to the line, who then spun out of the tackle to score beside the posts.
A Kris Keating 40/20 led to Illawarra’s second try when winger Yaw Kiti Glymin picked up the bouncing ball from an ordinary pass to score in the corner.
The home side managed to reduce the deficit when Kurtis Rowe skipped around the outside of his opposite number to score in the corner, but a try to Kris Keating on the stroke of half time meant that the Cutters would take a 16-4 lead into the sheds.
Ill-discipline in defence cost the home side two points, as Keating made no mistake with a penalty goal beside the sticks.
Wests Tigers hit back soon after through Tim Moltzen, who pounced on a pinpoint grubber kick into the in-goal from halfback Josh Drinkwater.
However, the Cutters weren’t about to let their opposition claw their way back into the game. A neat kick into the in-goal saw centre Charly Runciman dive on the ball, ending any hope of a Wests Tigers come back.
A late try to Wests Tigers forward Matt Lodge would mean little but consolation as the Cutters claimed an important victory away from home.
Illawarra Cutters 24 (C Runciman, Y Kiti Glymin, S Wakeman, K Keating tries; T Cranston 2, S Crook 2 goals) bt Wests Tigers 14 (T Moltzen, K Rowe, M Lodge tries; J Drinkwater goal)