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By Trent Thomas

The Illawarra Cutters have started their new season with a narrow 22-20 loss to the Mount Pritchard Mounties at the Aubrey Keech Reserve on Saturday.

The game started slowly as both teams began establishing themselves in the humid conditions.

The Cutters opened the scoring on the halfhour mark through young centre Euan Aitken, who impressed in his first game for the Cutters.

However, the lead was short lived as the Mounties were able to score a converted try before half time in the 32nd minute through former Cutter’s player Sam Duggan.

Mounties converted Duggan’s try and went into halftime leading 6-4.

The second half saw both teams pick up the pace with the Cutters scoring in the 44th minute through winger Tyron Cranston which put Illawarra ahead 10-4.

However, the Mounties would not let the Cutters enjoy their lead for long as they hit back through bench hooker Kurt Baptiste from dummy half.

The Cutters wrestled back the lead through Tyron Cranston after finishing off a frantic series of events that found him catching a loose ball inside the goal line.

The Cutters now led the contest 16-12.

Mount Prichard was forced to look at one of their big men to hit back at the Cutters with Shannon Boyd forcing the ball down after a run close to the line.

For the first time in the match a team scored back to back tries in the 70th minute when another former Cutter’s player, winger Gus Aiga, scored in the corner and extended Mounties’ lead to 22-16.

The visitors mounted a late comeback through a long range try to Charly Runciman which put them within striking distance but still behind 22-20 with five minutes to go.

However, the Cutters weren’t able to grab the lead in the final moments as the clock expired and the Mounties won a tight, see-sawing contest 22-20.

Final Score: Mounties 22 defeated Cutters 20.

Illawarra Cutters 20 Tries: Cranston (2), Aitken, Runciman. Goals: Mata’utai (2/3) Hutchinson (0/1).

Mt Pritchard Mounties 22 Tries: Duggan, Baptiste, Boyd, Aiga. Goals: Duggan (3/4).