A late surge from a tough Illawarra Cutters outfit has seen them down the Newtown Jets 18-10, subsequently booking them a spot in the Grand Final against Mounties.
Despite trailing for the majority of the game, and the crowd being totally one-sided, the Cutters persisted at the Jets’ line, and eventually cracked them twice in the final 10 minutes of play.
Tyrone McCarthy put forward an inspirational captain’s knock, while Hutchison’s relegation to the bench proved to work wonders for the Cutters, as he had a hand in the match-winning, and match-sealing tries at the end of the game.
The Jets wasted no time to open their account when the ball was shifted to the left edge. Kenny Niko found himself with the ball in hand, and while first contact was a considerable distance away from the try-line, his leg drive pushed him closer and his strength allowed him to plant the ball down.
A Josh McCrone cut-out ball to Taane Milne fractured the Jets’ defence, and once Corin Smith slid of the ball-carrier, there was only one way forward and the defenders – despite being carried over the line on his back – didn’t stand a chance, and Nona’s conversion gave the Cutters a 6-4 lead.
The Jets had various opportunities on the attack, but when they received a penalty on the stroke of half-time, they respected the Cutters defence and the shocking conditions by kicking a penalty goal which locked up the scores.
The opening nine minutes of the second-half was an absolute dogfight, with the conditions meaning that try-scoring opportunities were limited.
A Matt Evans dart down the right edge created a fraction of space for Jacob Gagan, and that is all he needed as he picked the ball up from dummy half and planted the ball down in the right corner to take the lead.
The Cutters best chance of the second half came when Drew Hutchison put in an attacking kick to the left wing, but some desperate cover defence by Evans and Cleeland forced them into touch.
A penalty forced the Jets back onto the ropes, but a one-on-one strip from Cleeland when the Cutters had an overlap saved the day once again.
The Newtown defence worked hard defending on their line, and it finally gave in the 74th minute when Jacob Host charged onto a flat ball and muscled his way through four defenders to score a great try.
Levi Dodd added the extras to take the lead for the Cutters with five minutes remaining.
Off the ensuing set, the exciting combination of Hutchison and Quinlan struck, when the crafty halfback threw an inside ball for the speedy fullback to run in for a try, which was the game sealing try for the Cutters to make the Intrust Super Premiership NSW Grand Final.