By Adam Bagnall (NSWRL.com.au)
The Illawarra Cutters were 31-18 winners over Wests Tigers in their Super Premiership NSW at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday.
Cutters centre Levi Dodd grabbed a first half double and fullback Adam Quinlan showed touches of class in the 13-point win.
The Cutters scored first through Dodd, who powered his way over out wide to open up a 4-0 advantage.
Dodd made it 8-0 midway through the half, running onto a great short ball to touch down.
Nona added the extras as the Cutters jumped out to a 10-0 lead.
A leg injury to Cutters winger Izaac Thompson threatened to halt their momentum, but he managed to play on.
Tigers halfback Josh Drinkwater put in a deft grubber for his hooker Menaia Cherrington to pounce on the half hour mark to get his side right back in the contest.
It was a great piece of play by Drinkwater, who summed up the situation perfectly and sliced the defence with a skilful kick.
Drinkwater did it all himself soon after when a Quinlan error gave the Tigers a great chance to make it back to back tries and the former Cutter took the line on from close range and scored.
He converted his own try to give the Tigers their first lead of the match, 12-10.
The Tigers would have been happy to head into the sheds 12-10 up, but they would be ecstatic with the way the half ended as some great offloading through the middle caught the Cutters unawares and fullback Jordan Marshall-King strolled over untouched.
Drinkwater slotted over the conversion and the Tigers enjoyed an 18-10 halftime lead despite conceding the game's first two tries.
The Cutters would be the first to score upon resumption of play when quick hands to the left saw interchange forward Tyrone McCarthy crash over out wide.
Nona's failed conversion attempt made it 18-14 with half an hour to play.
Just as the Cutters were gaining the ascendency in the match hooker Sam Coster was sent to the sin bin for dissent in the 55th minute but the Cutters not only held the Tigers out during this period, they added a try of their own when lock Shannon Wakeman crashed over from close range to tie it up.
Nona made the conversion to give his side a 20-18 lead.
It was a case of third time lucky for Wakeman, who crossed the line twice in the first half, only to be held up on the first occasion and then a dropped pass denied him on the second.
With just over 10 minutes to play and the game in the balance, an inspired piece of play by Quinlan pushed his side further in front; trailing on the inside of the ruck, he took an inside pass from Drew Hutchison and looked to be in the clear.
However the defence closed in and he put in a grubber for second rower Andrew McCarthy to score a remarkable, yet decisive try.
Nona was unable to convert and the Cutters led 24-18.
Quinlan wasn't finished yet and minutes later and with the Tigers still an outside chance of snatching victory, the diminutive fullback collected a kick in his own in-goal area and raced 40m through the Tiger's defence to single-handed get his side out of trouble.
In the 73rd minute Cutters prop Hame Sele scored the try that decided the game and Nona's conversion made it 30-18.
A Hutchison field goal in the dying stages rounded out the scoring.
Illawarra Cutters 31. Tries: Dodd (2), T McCarthy, Wakeman, A McCarthy, Quinlan, Sele. Goals: Nona (3/7). Field Goal: Hutchison (1/1).
Wests Tigers 18. Tries: Cherrington, Drinkwater, Marshall-King. Goals: Drinkwater (3/3).