By Blake Edwards
The Illawarra Cutters were 28-20 winners over the Wyong Roos at Morrie Breen Oval, Gosford on Saturday.
The result sees the Cutters end the competition season in second spot ahead of the NSW Cup Finals Series.
The home side struck first after just six minutes with Mitch Cornish's short ball finding Zane Tetevano to score.
Cornish converted to make it 6-0.
The Roos doubled their lead seven minutes later when second-rower Chris Smith put on a step from close range before carrying over two defenders to score.
Cornish added the extras and made it 12-0.
Fortunately, the Cutters rallied to score their first points for the afternoon through second-rower Chris Lewis, courtesy of a lovely inside ball by rake Sam Coster in the 19th minute.
Cutters five-eighth Nona converted to make it 12-6.
A short time later, the Cutters opted to chance their arm on the last tackle which in turn payed off with utility forward Jay Gallagher crossing for the visitors second.
A neat grubber from Nona just after the halfhour mark was scooped up by winger Kalifa Faifai Loa who turned the ball inside to his cente partner Levi Dodd, who in turn raced over to score under the sticks.
Nona added the extras to make it 16-12.
A ruck penalty though in the shadows of half-time to the Roos saw them take a penalty goal through Cornish to narrow the Cutters halftime lead to just two points.
The hosts again started the second half well when after sustained early pressure from a striping penalty.
Centre Matt Ikavalu finished off a left side raid to score and regain the lead at 20-16 after Cornish landed the conversion.
The Roos later started to make key mistakes to allow the visitors back into the game – and they paid the maximum penalty as the Cutters dominated the back end of the second half.
A nice face ball from Blake Wallace in the 67th minute found Lewis who barged over for his second try out wide.
Nona converted for the Cutters to regain the lead at 22-20.
From the restart set, the Cutters worked field position for Wallace to send Dodd away for his second try to give his team a six-point lead.
Nona added the extras again and made it 28-20.
Illawarra Cutters 28. Tries: Dodd (2), Lewis (2), Gallagher. Goals: Nona (4/5).
Wyong Roos 20. Tries: Tetevano, Smith, Ikuvalu. Goals: Cornish (3/3). Penalty Goal: Cornish (1/1).