By Jake Bull
The Illawarra Cutters took back the Tom Kirk Cup with a convincing 24-6 victory over the Newtown Jets at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Saturday.
The game was practically over by half-time as the side defended well in the second half to get their third win in-a-row.
The opening ten minutes saw both sides hit hard but fail to get over the try line.
In the 14th minute the home side got the first points of the game.
Fullback Justin Hunt found half a gap and then beat a few defenders with some great footwork to get the first try of the game.
Cutters halfback Shannon Crook added the extras for a 6-0 lead.
Eight minutes later the Cutters were in again when a set close to the line ended with dummy-half Craig Garvey burrowing over.
Crook again had the easy conversion as the lead was pushed out to 12-0.
Shortly before half-time the visitors had their third try when lock Russell Packer ran onto a short ball and put the ball down under the posts for his first try of the season.
Crook was having a field day as he again converted to give the home side an 18-0 lead at half-time.
The opening 15 minutes of the second half followed a similar formula to the first half with the Cutters holding onto the lead and the Jets pressuring the home side to get back into the game.
It was Illawarra who would break the stalemate in the 56th minute when an astute short ball from Garvey allowed prop Shannon Wakeman to burst onto the ball and go over for a try.
Crook continued his perfect afternoon with the boot as the lead was pushed out to 24-0.
With the game all but over, the Jets got themselves a consolation try as Daniel Abou-Sleiman went over in the corner.
Todd Murphy added the two points to see the game end with a 24-6 victory to the Cutters.
The win gave the Cutters good momentum before their third and final bye next weekend.