The Illawarra Cutters consolidated a top-eight position with a comprehensive 38-18 victory over the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at WIN Stadium.
With the St George Illawarra Dragons having the bye, Cutters head coach, Scott Logan, had the benefit of a couple of late inclusions, with first graders Dylan Farrell, George Rose and Will Matthews all added to an already-stacked starting 13.
The score line flattered the visitors, with poor defence and a lack of discipline costing the Sea Eagles throughout the game, as they struggled to contain Illawarra’s versatile backline, with fullback Justin Hunt continuing his prolific try scoring record at WIN Stadium with a double.
The Cutters asserted their dominance from the get go, taking advantage of field position when Drew Hutchinson threw a cut out pass to Dylan Farrell on the right edge, who went over in the corner.
Youngster Blake Wallace stepped up to the plate and slotted the kick from the sideline to give the Cutters a 6-0 lead after just five minutes.
Manly hit back soon after when five-eighth Jack Littlejohn put fullback Dominic Reardon over for the Sea Eagles first points of the afternoon, which came off back-to-back penalties.
From there on out, it was all one way traffic, with the Cutters piling on 32-unanswered points to wrap up their fourth win of the season.
A solo piece of brilliance by Hutchinson extended the Cutters’ lead out to 12-6, when the Illawarra five-eighth put a grubber kick in, forcing a knock on by the Sea Eagles fullback, before diving on the loose ball.
Tries to Blake Wallace, Justin Hunt and Charly Runciman in the space of 15 minutes quickly saw the home side jump out to a 28-6 half time lead.
The second half started off for the Sea Eagles in the same manner they ended the first, allowing the opening kick off to bounce before Illawarra regathered and put more pressure on the Manly line.
The errors continued to pileup for the Sea Eagles, with back-to-back errors down their own end of the park gifting field position to the Cutters that allowed Hutchinson to set Tyron Cranston up for Illawarra’s fifth try of the afternoon, giving them a 32-6 lead with half an hour remaining.
Justin Hunt proved why he is one of the best fullbacks in the VB NSW Cup moments later, when he used his footwork to dance in and out of the Manly line, before he crossed for his second of the afternoon, to extend the lead to 38-6.
Manly managed to end on a positive note, with consolation tries to Dominic Reardon and Michael Chee Kam in the 69th and 72nd minute closing the gap to 20 points.
Illawarra Cutters 38 (J Hunt 2, T Cranston, D Farrell, C Runciman, D Hutchinson, B Wallace tries; Wallace 5 goals) bt. Manly Sea Eagles 18 (D Reardon 2, M Chee Kam tries; K Aldridge 3 goals)