Highlights: Cutters v Magpies (Rd 17)
The Cutters escaped with a 30-22 victory after surviving a spirited Magpies fight back who trailed 20-0 after 24 minutes.
The Magpies cut the deficit to 24-22 with eight minutes remaining but the Cutters held on to remain two points out of the top four.
With Beau Henry in the sin-bin, the Cutters took full advantage of the extra-man overlap to score three tries and earn a commanding lead to set up the win.
Shannon Wakeman and Russell Packer were sensational for the Cutters in the forwards with Wakeman deservedly earning man-of-the-match honours. Wakeman and Packer terrorised the Magpies with their damaging runs and offloads to provide plenty of second-phase attack for their side.
The Cutters took an early 4-0 lead in the eighth minute through a pinpoint side-footed cross-field kick by Shannon Crook for Eli Roberts to catch the two-hand grab and plant the ball in the right hand corner.
After Beau Henry was sin-binned in the 12th minute for holding down in the break-away tackle for too long, the Magpies struggled with 12-men as the Cutters exploded to take a 20-0 lead.
Packer attacked the try line before offloading for Blake Wallace to pounce and score next to the posts for a 10-0 lead.
The Cutters scored again in the 17th minute with a lovely sleight of hands down the left hand passage as Chris Lewis offloaded for Kayne Brennan to score down the left. Crook added the extras for Cutters enjoy a 16-0 lead.
It was a further deflating blow for the Magpies when Junior Vaivai took a 90-metre intercept to score the Cutters’ fourth try in the opening 24 minutes.
The Magpies’ fight back began with a brilliant 15 metre two-man cut-out pass from Henry for Vai Toutai to score and trail 20-6.
Magpies made it back-to-back tries with Ryan Matterson slicing through the defence from 10 metres out to cut the deficit for a 20-12 halftime score.
Cutters extended their lead again 24-12 with 33 minutes remaining as Lewis managed to pounce on a pinpoint grubber by Wallace.
However, the Magpies wouldn’t relent as they narrowed the gap to eight points with 20 minutes to play in the contest. Henry threw another sensational cut-out pass for Halaufu Lavaka to cross in the right corner.
Lavaka crossed again for the Magpies to trail 24-22 with eight minutes to go in a grandstand finish.
However, the Cutters put the result to bed as Wallace put the exclamation point on a classy individual performance with his second try.
The Cutters face a tough road trip to New Zealand in a vital clash for two competition points against the second-placed Warriors, while the Magpies will prepare for a late-season surge with the bye.
Illawarra Cutters 30 (B Wallace 2, E Roberts, J Vaiai, K Brennan, C Lewis tries; S Crook 2, Wallace goals) bt Wentworthville Magpies 22 (H Lavaka 2, V Toutai, R Matterson tries; B Henry 3 goals)