By Andre Cupido (NSWRL.com.au)
The Illawarra Cutters were defeated 19-16 by the Wentworthville Magpies at Ringrose Park, Wentworthville on Sunday.
The opening exchanges were fiercely fought from both sides, but the Cutters managed to draw first blood after the ball ricocheted into the arms of flying winger Tom Carr, who found open space to put Tyrone Mccarthy over to claim an early lead within the opening five minutes of the game.
Cutters winger Kane Brennan later showed great speed down the sideline to evade a host of defenders, before finding fullback Sam Clune who crossed for their second try of the afternoon.
A classy back line movement again saw Brennan fly down the left-hand touch line looking all but certain to score, only for fullback Honeti Tuha to pull of a remarkable try saving tackle right on the line to hold out a third unanswered Cutters try.
Moments later, five-eighth Shaun Nona thought he scored his team's third as he reached out to plant the ball down, only for the referee to have rulled that he knocked the ball on over the line.
It did not take long for Illawarra to threaten the Magpies' defence again with Levi Dodd crashing over in the right hand corner, only to be denied by a second trysaving tackle from Tuha who was inspiring his team with some outstanding defensive efforts.
Despite some dominant attacking raids from the second place Cutters, the Magpies continued to impress with their committed goal line defence, holding them to just two tries and a 10-0 lead at half-time.
The hosts started the second half prominently with a great run from Tuha and a penalty putting them in great field position to finally claim their first points of the afternoon.
Moments later, a floating cut out pass found winger Scott Schulte who offloaded to back rower Cody Nelson who crossed in the right hand corner.
It did not take long for the home side to fire again with a second try shortly after, with a burst down the short side saw Nick Kassis cross under the posts to set the score at 10 all just after the 50 minute mark.
Honeti Tuha was proving to be unstoppable throughout the entire game, inspiring his team with a brilliant solo effort - running 90 metres and evading the fullback to grasp the lead and cross for their third unanswered try of the second half.
With just 10 minutes to go in the brutal contest, the Magpies were holding on to a lead of just one converted try with the Cutters continuously threatening their line with a host of attacking raids.
Despite their chances, Magpies winger Jake Butler-Fleming pounced on a loose ball and sprinted 50 metres to completely change the momentum of the game.
A late field goal to Cameron King and penalty goal from Izzard proved to be the icing on the cake for the home side despite a late try to cutters centre Levi Dodd, with the Magpies running out 19-10 wingers over second place Illawarra Cutters in one of the upsets of the season.
Illawarra Cutters 16. Tries: Clune, Dodd, McCarthy. Goals: Nona (1/3), Dodd (1/1).
Wentworthvile Magpies 19. Tries: Nelson, Kassis, Tuha. Goals: Izzard (2/3). Penalty Goal: King (1/1).