By Blake Edwards
The Illawarra Cutters were 36-22 winners over the New Zealand Warriors at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Saturday.
The Cutters withstood a second-half comeback by the visitors but managed to score six tries including a double to winger Tom Carr to start their season a positive.
The two sides went blow-for-blow in the opening minutes of the game with no side looking like giving in.
However, Cutters winger Tom Carr gathered a loose pass by the visitors and showed a substantial amount of speed to race 75 meters and score in the 10th minute.
Cutters five-eighth Shaun Nona converted to make it 6-0.
He then later forced a goal line drop-out after a solid attacking set and subsequently caught the defence napping in the repeat set to sneak over for a well executed individual try.
The pivot converted again to make it 12-0.
The hosts scored their third try through a quick exchange of hands which saw centre Peter Mata'utia go over in the left corner, to blow the score out to 18-0.
Nona converted to make it 18-0.
The Warriors eventually responded with a four-pointer to winger Ken Maumalo in the 35th minute.
However, the hosts struck back through second-rower Tyrone McCarthy just prior to the half-time siren to make it 22-4.
Nona converted to make it 24-4.
The visitors started the second half poorly, allowing the Cutters early field position through errors and a penalty which saw Konrad Hurrell placed on report for a high tackle.
Cutters interchange player Blake Wallace saw an opportunity close to the line burrowing over for the Cutters first try in the second stanza.
Nona again converted to make it 30-4.
The Warriors though scored a much-needed try through lock John Palivi in the 56th minute.
Warriors kicker Ata Hingano converted to make it 30-10.
The home side turned over a lot of ball through errors and cheap penalties in a later spell, inviting the men across the ditch back into the game.
The Warriors accepted the invitation, scoring two quick tries, which saw them get within eight points of their hosts.
However, Carr dove over for his second try of the match in the shadows of full-time, to give his team a comfortable points buffer.
Nona converted again to make it 36-22.
Illawarra Cutters 36. Tries: Carr (2), Wallace, Nona, McCarthy, Mata’utia. Goals: Nona (6/6).
New Zealand Warriors 22. Tries: Maumalo, Palivi, Hurrell, Allwood. Goals: Hingano (3/4).