The Illawarra Cutters continue their climb up the VB NSW Cup table with their third-consecutive win, comfortably handling the Newtown Jets 24-6 to regain the Tom Kirk Cup in a one-sided affair at WIN Stadium.
The home side were outstanding in defence for the majority of the game, holding the Jets out until the 73rd minute despite repeated pressure on their goal line.
It was the Illawarra forwards who stood up in attack, as Russell Packer and Nathan Green regularly bent the Newtown line, while the young halves pairing of Shannon Crook and Drew Hutchinson showed why the Dragons have such a big wrap on them.
Despite having such little ball in the opening quarter of an hour, it was the Cutters who struck first through Justin Hunt, with the speedy fullback bouncing and spinning his way to scoring his fifth try in four weeks.
Shannon Crook had no trouble converting from 15 metres in from touch, giving Illawarra a 6-0 lead after 16 minutes.
The Cutters struck again moments later off the back of a penalty, when hooker Craig Garvey darted out of dummy half to cross next to the uprights for a converted try in the 22nd minute.
Illawarra continued to make the best of their limited opportunities in the red zone, with Drew Hutchinson running the ball on the last tackle to break through and get a pass away to a trailing Russell Packer who went in under the posts.
Crook’s conversion from right in front gave the Cutters a handy 18-0 lead with six minutes remaining in the opening half.
As if the Newtown coaching staff weren’t already frustrated with the Jets first half attack, the visitors let a huge overlap go to waste right on the break, with a swarming Cutters defence somehow managing to hold up left centre Patrice Siolo, much to the delight of the home crowd.
The second half started much like the first, with the Jets having all the ball but once again, they were unable to find a way to crack the Illawarra line.
Off the back of a repeat set, Craig Garvey put interchange player Shannon Wakeman in just to the right of the uprights to give the Cutters a commanding 24-0 lead with 23 minutes remaining.
Despite appearing to already have the match wrapped up, Illawarra continued to hustle, with winger Tyron Cranston racing back and batting a near certain Todd Murphy 40/20 back into the field of play for Justin Hunt.
Newtown took advantage of one of their few real opportunities in the second half, with Patrice Siolo putting his outside man, Daniel Abou-Sleiman, over for the Jets only try of the afternoon.
Illawarra Cutters 24 (J Hunt, C Garvey, R Packer, S Wakeman tries; S Crook 4 goals) bt Newtown Jets 6 (D Abou-Sleiman try; T Murphy goal)