The Illawarra Cutters left it late to run away the match, but they eventually downed a fighting Newtown Jets outfit 38-14 at Henson Park.
Adam Quinlan and Shannon Wakeman put in fantastic performances under the lights, while crafty five-eighth Drew Hutchinson scored two important second-half tries.
On the other side of the scale, Fa’amanu Brown was outstanding for the Jets and close to the best player on the field despite being on the wrong end of the scoreboard.
The Jets began the match with all of the field position and possession, but in their first true attacking opportunity, the Cutters’ defence held strong.
After an attempted strip gone wrong, the Jets were put immediately back on to the attack, and Fa'amanu Brown sold a dummy, and eventually wrestled his way over the line to post first points of the evening.
10 minutes into the contest, the Cutters finally entered their own half and immediately stuck thanks to some fancy footwork by Adam Quinlan, who then threw a beautiful cut-out ball for Levi Dodd to crash over in the left-corner.
The Cutters did not bother to build pressure and slowly gain field possession to set up their next try, as Will Matthews burst through the line, and Quinlan charged onto his offload to race away and score under the posts.
Brown hit back for the Jets in exactly the same fashion as his first try, after he stepped off both feet, wrestled his way through defenders who attempted a do-or-die grasp, and locked the scores back up at 10-all.
A classic definition of counter attack took place just short of half-time, as Kurt Mann put in a kick, Jaline Graham somehow picked up the ball without going into touch, tip-toed the sideline and got a magic offload to Mitch Brown, who ran 70-metres to score in the right-corner.
The second half began disastrously for the Cutters, as Josh McCrone dropped the ball off the kick-off.
It did not cost them, however, and they responded with a brilliant try as Siliva Havili and Matthews combined, before Damien Sironen ran away and threw a great offload for Drew Hutchinson to crash over and take a 16-14 lead.
Hutchinson was in the thick of it as he extended the Cutters’ lead to 22-14, this time the try was all his doing, as he stepped through and ducked under various Newtown defenders to score.
It seemed the contest was never going to get out of reaching distance for either side, but suddenly the Cutters had run away with the match as Wakeman crashed over for a well deserved try.
Alike Hutchinson, Wakeman scored a consecutive double, this time a runaway try for the big front-rower who certainly deserved multiple appearances on the scoresheet.
Tyrone McCarthy put in a nice left-foot grubber for Kiti Glymin to make the final score 38-14, a score-line that does not justify the toughness of the contest.