Roos Win Again After Slow Start
The Wyong Roos continued their excellent Intrust Super Premiership NSW form with an impressive 32-16 win over Illawarra at a chilly WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Saturday.
Both sides were locked up at 12-all at the break with the home side dominating the early exchanges, but the visitors hit back with two tries to stay in the contest.
It was a different story in the second half, the Roos slowly asserting their dominance on the match to run out 16-point winners.
Illawarra opened the scoring in the eighth minute when a slick backline movement exposed the Roos' right side defence and fullback Matt Dufty sliced through to score.
Shaun Nona added the extras and the home side led 6-0.
Illawarra winger Izaac Thompson was tackled into touch just 20 metres out from his own line a short time later, gifting Wyong a great opportunity.
However the home side came up with some strong goal-line defence, forcing an error on the fifth tackle and they worked their way down field.
A Dufty mid-field bomb was spilled by the Roos in the 18th minute and from the ensuing set the home side shifted the ball wide, Dufty finding his winger Reuben Garrick who slid over in the corner.
Nona's brilliant sideline conversion gave his side a handy 12-0 lead.
The Roos hit back through centre Matt Ikuvalu in the 20th minute, the try converted by winger Josh Mantellato and Illawarra led 12-6.
With 10 minutes left in the half a neat grubber from dummy-half allowed Mantellato to score in the left corner and he converted his own try to tie it up at 12-all.
The visitors earned themselves an early assualt on the Illawarra line when the home side let a bomb bounce and Dufty was forced to kick it dead.
The Roos couldn't capitalise initially but an Illawarra knock-on gave them another crack and second rower Chris Smith raced onto a Mitch Cornish short ball and found the line to give his side the lead for the first time.
Mantellato made no mistake and the Roos led Illawarra 18-12 after 46 minutes.
Garrick grabbed his second in the 53rd minute to keep Illawarrain the game, Dufty supplying the final pass to send Garrick over in the right corner.
Nona's attempt fell just short and the Roos hung on to a two-point lead, 18-16.
The Roos pulled further ahead through Justin Toomey-White, the prop bursting through from close range. Mantellato converted from in front to give his side a 24-16 lead with 16 minutes remaining in the match.
Illawarra had their chances as the half wore on but were guilty of dropping the ball at crucial times, centre Patrick Herbert dropping his lollies with the line beckoning on two seperate occasions.
With just five minutes remaining, the Roos added a penalty goal from in front to make it a 10-point ball game, the visitors ahead 26-16.
Roos fullback Luke Sharp rounded out the scoring in the 79th minute, converted by Mantellato to give the visitors a comfortable win.
Wyong Roos 32 (M Ikuvalu, J Toomey-White, C Smith, J Mantellato, L Sharpe tries; J Mantellato 6 goals) def Illawarra 16 (R Garrick 2, M Dufty tries; S Nona 2 goals)