The Illawarra Cutters have beaten the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 38-12 at Belmore Sports Ground.
Cutters winger Kalifa Fai Fai Loa grabbed two tries as the visitors continued their unbeaten start to the 2016 Intrust Super Premiership season.
Both sides entered the game undefeated with the Bulldogs drawing 16-all with the Newtown Jets while the Cutters accounted for the New Zealand Warriors 36-22 in the opening round.
The Cutters started well when halfback Drew Hutchinson forced a drop out and hooker Josh McCrone was held up in the ensuing set.
The Bulldogs survived and marched upfield courtesy of a Cutters penalty for offside but a loose pass released the pressure as both teams battled away in the warm conditions.
Both sides had chances at the oppositions’ line but execution was letting them down as the half wore on.
In the 16th minute Cutters backrower Jake Marketo showed great awareness to back up and received a great offload for his troubles, racing away upfield for the first line break of the match.
The Cutters were unable to convert that opportunity into points but seven minutes later they looked to have opened the scoring through winger Kalifa Fai Fai Loa but he was ruled to have gone into touch.
In the 28th minute a beautiful inside ball by Hutchinson found a flying Adam Quinlan and he stepped past Bulldogs fullback Brad Abbey to open the scoring. Shaun Nona made no mistake and the Cutters led 6-0.
The visitors increased their lead three minutes later when a Bulldogs error on their own 20 metre line enabled Cutters centre Corey Brown to find Fai Fai Loa who scored out wide. Nona’s attempt was waved away and the Cutters led 10-0.
Right on halftime a stroke of genius by Nona gave the Cutters their third try.
After kicking downfield, Nona chased through and stripped the ball from Abbey and strolled over untouched. His conversion gave the Cutters a handy 16-0 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring early in the second half through centre Reubenn Rennie to get back into the contest. The conversion by Abbey was good to make it 16-6.
The Cutters hit back in the 46th minute through Chris Lewis who won the race to a neat Hutchinson grubber close to the line. Nona added the extras to make it 22-6.
A great break was made by the Bulldogs after a Fai Fai Loa tap back fell into Tyrone Phillips’ hands and he raced away down the sideline.
The Cutters survived and nearly scored their fourth try up the other end but it was denied due to offside.
Great pressure by the Bulldogs forced a dropout in the 55th minute as they continued to pile on the pressure.
It paid off when Shaun Lane ran onto a short pass and the tall secondrower proved too strong for the Cutters’ defence, reaching out to score a great try. Abbey converted from out wide to reduce the margin to 22-12.
The Cutters had a great chance to push ahead with a full set 30m out from the line but Jacob Host couldn't handle a Nona short ball right on the line and the Bulldogs breathed a sigh of relief.
Another Bulldogs error saw the Cutters shift it quickly to the left and Fai Fai Loa scored out wide, his second of the match. Nona added the extras to make it 28-12 with seventeen minutes left.
The Bulldogs had a scare when, in attempting to strip the ball, the Cutters knocked on 10 metres out from the Bulldogs line, but the home side needed quick points to get anything out of the match.
Time was becoming the Bulldogs’ biggest enemy as they trailed by 16 with less than 20 minutes left in the match.
The Cutters extended their lead in the 68th minute when Sam Coster burrowed over from dummy half. Nona’s conversion made it 34-12 with just over 10 minutes to go.
A short kick off by the Bulldogs earned them a full set in the Cutters’ half and Bulldogs winger Remis Smith looked to have scored but went into touch.
Corey Brown added his name to the list of tryscorers in the 76th minute to take the Cutters’ lead out to 38-12. Nona couldn't convert from out wide but the Cutters had the game wrapped up with just minutes left on the clock.
Illawarra 38 (A Quinlan, C Brown, L Faifailoa 2, S Nona, S Coster, C Lewis tries, S Nona 5 goals)def Canterbury 12 (R Rennie, S Lane, B Abbey 2 goals)