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Illawarra outplay gold-standard Sharks

March 2014

Remondis Stadium (Shark Park), Cronulla,

New South Wales

by Jodie Newell

For the past 12 months the Cronulla Sharks - Melbourne Storm NSW Cup combine have been setting a very high standard of rugby league which amounted to them winning the 2013 competition.

On Saturday afternoon at the Sharks home of Remondis Stadium, they were given some of their own medicine as the Illawarra Cutters gave a 90 minute display of superb defensive and offensive rugby league.

“The blokes played well against quality opposition. I’m really pleased for the players”

- Illawarra Cutters coach Ian Millward

The Cutters entered the game with a ton of confidence after salvaging points with a draw on a tough away road trip against the Warriors last week. Meanwhile the Sharks have found the early season challenging as sides lift to beat the current NSW Cup champions.

The Cutters began the game solidly and soon had a try on the board thanks to crisp passing ending with Geoff Daniella scoring in the far left corner of the Southern Grandstand end. Sam Duggan was unable to convert the extras, Cutters up 4-0.

Winger Nathan Smith would have Illawarra’s second try in a matter of minutes after receiving a great pass from Nathan Green. The Cutters were playing slick rugby league and had the Sharks on their heels. This time Duggan made for a excellent conversion kick in a tricky breeze. Illawarra 10-0.

Against the run of play, Cronulla were able to post their first try of the game thanks to an intercept from Ryan Carr. The Cutters had been pressing to score again with excellent field position, yet Carr took the intercept and passed to Nathan Stapleton who broke through the Illawarra defence and sprinted 70+ metres to score much needed points. Stapleton missed the extras, 10-4 to the Cutters.

Illawarra would hit back after they were given a penalty awarded against the Sharks Sione Masima. It was a silly penalty that gave great field advantage to the Cutters who cashed in via a barging run from the full-back in Peter Mata’utia. Duggan again kicked truly. 16-4 Illawarra.

Cronulla would quickly made amends. They were awarded a penalty close to the try line. Full Back Kurt Mann offloaded a pass to Nathan Stapleton who found himself scoring his second try of the day. It was a timely score coming close to the half time break. The Sharks were now 16-10 heading back into the sheds.

Illawarra began the second half in similar fashion to the first.After 90 seconds of play, Will Matthews was able to easily cut through a Sharks defence who seemed distracted. Duggan missed the conversion, Cutters up 20-10

The early and easy Illawarra try seemed to snap Cronulla into gear as they fought to get back into the game. After being awarded consecutive penalties, Michael Lichaa took on the Cutters line and scored a much needed try. Stapleton made no mistake wit the extras. Illawarra 20 Sharks 16.

Illawarra quickly replied with Nathan Smith scoring. It seemed Cronulla were unable to gain a foothold and overcome the Cutters lead. Smith would score again, all but ending any chances the Sharks had. Try as they might, Cronulla faced a determined Illawarra defence who ate precious time from the clock. They allowed a Sharks try after several attempts. The Cutters sealed the match via a Geoff Daniella try, his second for the game. Illawarra defeating Cronulla 34-22.

It was an outstanding effort by the Cutters who defended strongly when challenged and scored when they had the opportunites. For Cronulla they were slow to click into gear and struggled all day to make any headway.

Illawarra sit seventh on the competition table with two wins, whilst Cronulla are placed 4th.The Cutters play Newtown in Wollongong next Saturday, whilst the Sharks head to Newcastle next Sunday.

Catch Me If You Can Illawarra’s Nathan Smith was outstanding scoring a hat-trick of tries

image: 2014 NewellMediaGroup

Final score:  Illawarra Cutters 34  defeated  Cronulla Sharks 22

Tries: Cutters: N Smith 3, G Daniela 2, W Matthews, P Mata’utia

Tries: Sharks : N Stapleton 2, M Lichaa, J Roqica

Conversions: Cutters: S Duggan 3

Conversions: Sharks : N Stapleton 3

Referee: Chris Treneman

At Shark Park (Remondis Stadium)