By Olivia Barry
The Illawarra Cutters were 18-10 winners over the Newtown Jets in their Preliminary Final fixture at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
Pouring rain made for tough, slippery conditions on the field but the Cutters were able to muscle their way over the line in the tight match to put them through to the Grand Final.
The Jets were the first to strike in the third minute, coming from an error made by Cutters winger Kalifa Faifai Loa which allowed the opposition to feed from a scrum twenty metres from their line.
The Jets were quick to use the advantage, sending centre Kenny Niko over the line for four points.
The Jets though evened the score in the 17th minute, using a penalty advantage to execute a brilliant block play, assisting centre Taane Milne over the line with a risky long ball.
Cutters five-eighth Shaun Nona was able to kick the conversion to put the Cutters in front by two points.
An offside penalty against Cutters utility Josh McCrone though saw the Jets even the score with kicker Fa’amanu Brown convertinga two-point penalty kick.
The testing conditions saw the Cutters defence waiver in the 47th minute, letting in a try to Jets winger Jacob Gagan.
Brown was again unable to convert leaving the score at 10-6.
However, with seven minutes to go, the Cutters showed a massive team effort with big runs from props Shannon Wakeman and Damian Sironen to eventually send second-rower Jacob Host over the line from first receiver.
Cutters centre Levi Dodd was able to successfully convert the try to put the Cutters in front by two points with a score of 12-10.
The Cutters used their momentum to push for one final try in the dying three minutes of the game, a beautiful inside ball from halfback Drew Hutchison to fullback Adam Quinlan who solidifed his team's place in the Grand Final.
Dodd converted the final try to bring the closing score to 18-10.
Illawarra Cutters 18. Tries: Milne, Host, Quinlan. Goals: Nona (1/1), Dodd (2/2).
Newtown Jets 10. Tries: Niko, Gagan. Goals: Brown (0/2). Penalty Goals: Brown (1/2).