By Matt Buxton (NSWRL.com.au)
The Illawarra Cutters were defeated 42-12 by the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Nowra Showgrounds on Sunday.
Nicko Hynes was superb for the Sea Eagles, bagging two first-half tries and setting up more; while right-winger Ben Fritz and left-centre Brad Parker also recorded two tries for themselves.
The Cutters afternoon was plagued by schoolboy errors, which included two kick-offs that travelled out on the full, conceding a massive four tries of kick-off sets, and letting in three tries off poorly handled kicks.
The Cutters dominated the early field position, and almost converted that into points when Andrew McCarthy crashed over, but it was called a double movement.
Unfortunately for the young prop, he badly injured his shoulder in the process and had to come off.
Levi Dodd showed some fancy footwork to dance through the Sea Eagles defence when there was seemingly nothing on to score the first try for the Cutters, and that came off an extremely strong run by Jacob Hind who picked up over 20 metres in the carry.
The Sea Eagles hit back off the back off a Cutters mistake, then penalty, when Ben Fritz finished off a left-to-right shift to athletically plant the ball down in the corner.
However, Hugh Pratt’s missed conversion meant the Cutters still had a 6-4 lead.
On the fifth play in the kick-off set, the Sea Eagles put up a towering bomb that was allowed to bounce, and that bounced proved to be an absolute gift for five-eighth Hynes, who simply caught the ball that came his way and scored the try.
In what was almost an exact repeat of the previous try, Hynes took advantage of a Cutters error on the fifth tackle of the kick-off set, and then scored to take the Sea Eagles to a 10-6 lead for the first time in the match.
The Cutters were next to score through Kayne Brennan, who showed speed to get around his opposition defender and finish off a right-to-left shift, which brought the scores back to 16-10.
A late Hutchinson penalty goal meant the Sea Eagles went into halftime leading by four.
Fritz scored his second try of the afternoon on the other side of half-time when Hynes continued his outstanding afternoon by throwing a long cut-out ball to his winger.
Dylan Kelly got his name on the scoresheet off yet another Sea Eagles kick that was not properly handled by the Cutters, extending their lead to 24-12 with a quarter of the game to go.
The Cutters had a chance to hit back while on the attack and Tom Carr tried hard to keep the ball in play by tapping it back in, but it found the turf and the first man there was Sea Eagles’ centre Brad Parker, who ran over 80 metres untouched to put the game to bed.
The floodgates began to open as James Tuitahi scored down the right wing off the kick-off set after some strong runs from his forwards.
The fourth kick-off set try of the day immediately followed with Peter Schuster crossing just moments later.
Parker grabbed his double in the final five minutes of the match, meaning the final score-line was 42-12 in favour of the Sea Eagles.
Illawarra Cutters 12. Tries: Dodd, Brennan. Goals: Nona (2/2).
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 42. Tries: Hynes (2), Fritz (2), Parker (2), Kelly, Schuster, Tuitahi. Goals: Pratt (2/5), Hynes (1/4).