Illawarra Cutters overturned a halftime deficit to defeat Wests Tigers 28-20 in an entertaining encounter at Workers Arena in Goulburn.
The Cutters received a big opportunity two minutes in when a scuffle between the two sides resulted in Tigers centre, Salesi Funaki being sent to the Sin Bin.
However, the Cutters failed to seize the opportunity and Wests quickly turned defence into attack. Swift ball movement saw winger, John Sila storm over for the first points of the afternoon.
Minutes later the Tigers were at it again when they broke the line from their own half and linked with Kurtis Rowe, who dived out next to the posts for a 10-0 lead after 10 minutes.
The Cutters were shocked and realigned themselves to pressure the Tigers goal line. Fast hands saw Tyron Cranston finish off under the post to make it 10-6.
The Cutters hit the Wests Tigers’ line again and Cranston grabbed his second try, which was almost identical to his first.
Just as it appeared that both sides would enter halftime on level terms, a Josh Drinkwater grubber created confusion and Funaki was able dive on the loose ball to put Wests Tigers up 16-10 at halftime.
The Cutters began the second half with plenty of enthusiasm in attack but Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard was held up over the line.
The Cutters were not going to be denied for long when Cranston flew down the sideline to link with Shannon Crook, who passed back to Cranston to complete his hat trick.
Straight off the restart, Yaw Kiti Glymin split the Tigers defence, finding his fullback Justin Hunt inside who touched down for a 20-16 lead.
With the Wests Tigers shell-shocked, the Cutters were on the attack again. A towering bomb from Drew Hutchison was caught spectacularly by Charly Runciman, who landed over the try line to further extend the Cutters lead.
Wests Tigers began to press the Cutters in attack to try and restore their lead but strong defence kept them at bay.
With six minutes left, Sila found the line for his second try to setting up a grandstand finish with the score 26-20.
However, it was not to be with the Cutters winning the ball from the kick off and then gaining a penalty 25 meters out in front. Crook comfortably converted for the Cutters to leave Goulburn victorious 28-20.
Illawarra Cutters 28 (T Cranston 3, J Hunt, C Runciman tries; S Crook 4 goals) bt Wests Tigers 20 (J Sila 2, K Rowe, S Funaki tries; J Drinkwater 2 goals)