Illawarra secured a gutsy 24-10 victory over the Mounties at a chilly GIO Stadium Canberra on Saturday evening.
With both sides coming off last start losses, both sides were eager to bounce back, which was evident early with both sides exchanging blows in the early stages.
Illawarra were first to score through Kalifa Faifai Loa, when he evaded defenders to cross out wide to get the visitors off to a dream start.
Mounties hit back a short while later through Jack Nelson to gain the lead, before Faifai Loa found himself amongst the action again, racing in for a first half double to turn the game back into Illawarra’s favour.
Fellow winger Izaac Thompson followed suit, scoring an impressive four pointer to give his side a 12-6 lead at the break.
Mounties were first to trouble the scores after the intermission through Dominic Reardon, which got his side within two points of the defending premiers.
The visitors responded through Matt Dufty, with the livewire fullback dissecting would-be defenders and racing underneath the posts to once again extend his side's lead heading into the final quarter.
Illawarra muscled up in defence throughout the final quarter denying Mounties any opportunity to cross the stripe. Luciano Leilua would round out the scoring when he barged over on the full-time siren granting Illawarra a well earned 24-10 victory.
Illawarra 24 (K Faifai Loa 2, I Thompson, M Dufty, L Leilua tries; P Herbert 2 goals) def Mounties 10 (J Nelson, D Reardon tries; I John goal)