The Illawarra Cutters have continued their brilliant form of late, picking up their third win in four weeks with a 28-14 victory over the Newtown Jets at WIN Stadium this afternoon.
Despite a double from Newtown halfback Fa’amanu Brown, it was the Illawarra forwards that dominated the game, with Sebastian Ikahihifo and Jacob Hind regularly breaking tackles.
A couple of poor last play options by the Newtown Jets to start the game allowed the Cutters to really apply pressure from the get go. After Hutchinson was able to force a repeat set, Illawarra spread it to the right centre Taane Milne, who went over in the corner to open the scoring.
Shaun Nona was able to convert from the sideline to give the home side a 6-0 lead after six minutes.
Despite Hutchinson continuing to pin Newtown down their own end of the park, poor ball handling from the Cutters allowed the Jets to get on the scoreboard shortly after.
After back to back knock-ons by Illawarra, Fa’amanu Brown put a little grubber kick in for Travis Robinson on the Eastern side of the ground, before Brown converted from the sideline to level the scores up at six a piece.
With Fa’amanu Brown shifting to hooker, he showed his influence on the game, scoring two tries in seven minutes to give the Jets a 14-6 lead with five minutes remaining in the half.
Just when it looked as though the Jets were going to take a handy eight point lead into the break, Sebastian Ikahihifo managed to pop a pass to a trailing Peter Mata’utai who went over as time expired.
Illawarra came out firing to start the second half, with front rower Jacob Hind putting in a grubber on a broken play before chasing down Mitch Brown in the in-goal and securing his side a repeat set.
Less than a minute later, Sam Coster took advantage of some lazy marker defence to level the scores up at 14-all, and bring the Illawarra crowd to their feet.
When Fa’amanu Brown, arguably the Jets best player in the first half, came from the field shortly after, Newtown struggled to do much in attack.
Both sides were reduced to 12 men with 20 minutes remaining in the match, after Anthony Moraitis and Taane Milne were deemed to have thrown a punch.
From there, the game really started to open up, with Peter Mata’utai using his footwork to go in untouched and give the Illawarra a 22-14 lead following Nona’s conversion.
Mata’utai continued his influence on the game, setting up Levi Dodd in the 74th minute, before a penalty goal from Shaun Nona with two minutes remaining saw the Cutters pick up a 14-point win and move up to equal first on the competition table.
Both Illawarra and Newtown can look forward to a bye next weekend, before the Cutters head to Nowra Showground to take on the Manly Sea Eagles on Sunday afternoon at 3pm, while Newtown head to Cessnock Showground to play the Wentworthville Magpies at 4:45pm on Saturday.
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