By Jake Bull
The Illawarra Cutters returned to winning ways with a 22-18 victory over the Penrith Panthers at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Saturday.
After holding a slender lead at the break, the Cutters managed to hold on after a late flurry from the Panthers.
It was a good start for the Cutters in the sixth minute when a shift to the left ended with Junior Vaivai scoring out wide for a 4-0 lead.
In the 20th minute the home side had their second try when second-rower Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard used his strength to crash over.
Blake Wallace converted the try for a 10-0 lead.
Shortly before half-time the visitors got themselves back into the game when a great offload from Sione Katoa found Sam Scarlett who stepped Wallace and touched down under the posts.
Adrian Davis added the two points to make it 10-6 at half-time.
Nine minutes after the break an enterprising short side play ended with centre Nathan Green scoring a try.
Wallace made no mistake as the lead was pushed out to 16-6.
In the 56th minute the Panthers hit back when late-inclusion, Chris Smith, received a short ball that allowed him to crash over.
Davis converted to make it 16-12.
From the kick-off after the try, the Panthers shifted it wide and made their way through Illawarra’s defence before Kieran Moss used his pace to finish off the play.
Adrian Davis gave the visitors their first lead of the game as the score read 18-16.
Four minutes later the home side sealed the win when Nathan Green barged over for his second try.
Wallace converted as the Cutters beat one of the premiership favourites 22-18.
Illawarra Cutters 22. Tries: Green (2), Vaivai, Tuimavave-Gerrard. Goals: Wallace (3/4).
Penrith Panthers 18. Tries: Scarlett, Smith, Moss. Goals: Davis (3/3).