The Illawarra Cutters’ introduction to the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, formerly known as the NSW Cup, in 2012 brought great enthusiasm from the people of the South Coast, who had not had an exclusively Illawarra team since the Steelers’ merger with the St George Dragons in 1998. Aside from the Steelers’ Harold Matthews and SG Ball titles in 1996, no silverware had ever resided in Wollongong, but premiership-winning coach Jason Demetriou’s appointment had many fans optimistic about a turn of fortunes in 2016.
When the Cutters met with the might of Mounties in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW Grand Final, they came in as slight underdogs; while they had put forth some convincing performances in recent weeks, Mounties had lost just two matches as they charged towards the minor premiership and boasted a forward pack with a wealth of NRL experience. The Cutters, however, were not to be overwhelmed and came out of the blocks quickly, scoring three tries in the opening 12 minutes to all but secure the result early.
To Mounties’ credit, they fought back to a 20-16 lead early in the second half, but a second to Kalifa Faifai Loa would ensure a grandstand finish at Pirtek Stadium. Cutters halfback Drew Hutchison slotted an unconvincing – but successful – field goal before the Mounties’ Sam Williams skewed his last-ditch attempt wide, sealing a thrilling victory to wrap up the Intrust Super Premiership NSW.