The Newcastle Knights got out to a flyer at Hunter Stadium, but the Illawarra Cutters overcame their poor start to win 40-24.
Sam Coster earned the Intrust Super Premiership man of the match award for his two tries, while Adam Quinlan and Shannon Wakeman were also outstanding.
The Knights were blessed with the inclusion of Akuila Uate, but his efforts were not enough to overcome the in-form Cutters and get the Knights’ season back on track.
A ball by Kurt Aldridge got batted back by a Cutters player, and re-gathered by Taane Milne very close to the try line. With many bodies on top of him, the ball was dislodged, and eventually taken and planted for a try by Chanel Mata’utia to open the Knights’ account.
Off the ensuing set on the fifth tackle, Aldridge put up a spiralling kick that was allowed to bounce, and the Knights’ wonderful kick-chase was rewarded by a lucky bounce into the hands of David Bhana, who crossed next to the posts to increase their lead to 12-0 after just eight minutes.
After multiple opportunities attacking Newcastle’s line, the Cutters finally got points on the board in the 23rd minutes when Hame Sele made a powerful run to burst through and plant the ball down.
The Knights gave away a penalty on fifth tackle on their line, which proved to hurt them greatly as Sam Coster wrestled his way through five defenders to score under the posts and lock up the scores at 12-all.
On the stroke of half-time, the Cutters took the lead thanks to a miracle team effort across 60-metres, which is a certain contender for try of the season. The ball went through hands before Quinlan made a great run, who got it to Milne, before he threw one of the best passes of the season, flicking it to an un-marked Kiti Glymin to race away with an unbelievable try.
Ryan Walker made a great run, beating plenty of defenders and only had to plant the ball down to lock-up the scores, but he lost it at the last second, and the Cutters went to the other side of the field off the ensuing set to score through Levi Dodd.
The Knights were back through 161-game veteran Uate, who wound back the clock to bust through the defence inside his own half and beat Quinlan to score a 60-metre try.
Shannon Wakeman was stopped when trying to power over shortly afterwards, but off the next set, he tried once more and got the result, extending the Cutters’ lead to 28-18.
Quinlan sealed the game by drifting right, throwing a dummy and straightening through a hole, before Uiti Baker powered through under the posts at the other end.
Coster scored on the stroke of full-time, which meant the Cutters ended up winning the game 40-24.