By Jake Bull
The Illawarra Cutters were defeated 38-22 to the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland on Sunday.
Despite running out to an early 18-0 lead, the Cutters couldn’t hold on as the home side dominated possession in the second half and joined Penrith Panthers at the top of the table.
It was a dream start for the visitors. After having a wayward kickoff get them a repeat set from a Warriors error, they were able to find the tryline as Tyrone Cranston stepped defenders to score the opening try.
Blake Wallace added the two points for a 6-0 lead after two minutes.
In the tenth minute the visitors had their second try when dummy-half Sam Coster burrowed over from close to the line.
Wallace again converted for a 12-0 lead.
Seventeen minutes into the game and the dream start continued when Shannon Wakeman used all his power and determination to carry the ball from the 20 metre line and plant the ball under the posts.
Blake Wallace had the easy conversion to give his side a commanding 18-0 lead.
With the half-time break not far away, the Warriors kicked into gear.
A short ball 10 metres out in the 36th minute found Sam Lisone who strolled over and planted the ball behind the posts.
Mason Lino added the extras to bring the game back to 18-6.
In the 39th minute, after some ad-lib play that the home side is famous for, the ball came to James Bell who grubbered for himself to score.
Lino held his nerve as the Cutters went into the break with a slender 18-12 lead.
The half-time break didn’t stop the home side’s momentum and on 42 minutes they had their third try when centre Dominique Peyroux scored from close range to trail 18-16.
The momentum had well and truly swung and the visitors couldn’t stop the tries coming.
Mason Lino had a try of his own nine minutes later when he kicked and regathered to finally take the lead 20-18.
In the 55th minute young five-eighth Ata Hingano used his evasive skills to score.
Lino was having a good day with the boot as the lead was extended to 26-18.
With 20 minutes to go fullback Glen Fisiiahi found some room and streaked away to score.
The conversion was an easy one for Lino as the lead was pushed out to 32-18.
It was a double for Fisiiahi on 68 minutes when he put his body on the line to score in the corner.
It was one of his harder conversions of the day but Lino held his nerve to put it over and give the home side a 38-18 lead.
Six minute later the Cutters got themselves a consolation try when Eli Roberts crossed in the corner to see the game finish 38-22.
Illawarra Cutters 22. Tries: Cranston, Coster, Wakeman, Roberts. Goals: Wallace (3/4).
New Zealand Warriors 38. Tries: Lisone, Bell, Peyroux, Lino, Hingano, Fisiiahi (2). Goals: Lino (5/7).