By Jake Bull
The Illawarra Cutters took their home game to the country and came away with a 28-20 victory over the Wests Tigers at Workers Arena, Goulburn on Saturday.
With it being their first game back from the bye, they struggled for most of the first half but a flurry early after the break was enough for Illawarra to get the two points.
There was plenty of feeling in the opening minutes and it all came to a head just two minutes in.
A set for the Cutters close to the line saw them then awarded a penalty and included Tigers player Salesi Funaki sent to the sin bin for being the third man in after a scuffle broke out.
However, the home side couldn’t capitalise on the extra man as the Tigers took the lead in the sixth minute when John Sila scored out wide for a 4-0 lead.
Four minutes later the Tigers were in again when a break ended with fullback Kurtis Rowe streaking away to score.
Halfback, Josh Drinkwater, converted the try for an early 10-0 lead.
It was not until the 20th minute that the Cutters would get on the board.
A shift from right to left ended with a great cut-out pass from Drew Hutchison found Tyron Cranston who ran round to make the conversion easier.
Shannon Crook converted to bring the game back to 10-6.
With five minutes to go before half-time the Cutters scored one of the more peculiar tries.
Tyron Cranston powered his way to the line only to have the referee call held up.
He then got a call from the touch judge and reversed his decision giving Cranston his second of the game.
Crook looked to have converted but his shot hit the crossbar and bounced away as the teams were locked at 10-all.
With the final play of the half the Tiger re-took the lead when Funaki got a fortunate bounce off a cross-field kick to score his sides’ third try.
Drinkwater added the extras as the visitors went into the break with a 16-10 lead.
It did not take long after the break for the Cutters to get back into the game.
Some good lead up play ended with Cranston getting his hat-trick but they still trailed 16-14.
In the 49th minute, the Cutters took the lead for the first time in the game when Justin Hunt received an inside ball and ran away to score.
Shannon Crook converted for a 20-16 lead.
Three minutes later the home side extended their lead further after Charly Runciman leapt high and put the ball down over the line.
Crook had found his range and pushed the lead out to 26-16.
With the game winding down the Tigers managed to get one more try through John Sila and make it a tense last couple of minutes at 26-24.
However, after getting the ball back from the kick-off and then being awarded a penalty right in front of the posts, Shannon Crook took the two to give the Cutters the 28-20 win.
Illawarra Cutters 28. Tries: Cranston (3), Hunt, Runciman. Goals: Crook (4/6).
Wests Tigers 20. Tries: Sila (2), Rowe, Funaki. Goals: Drinkwater (2/4).