Millward full of praise for Cutters' line

NSW CUP

A week after giving up 30 points in almost as many minutes, Illawarra Cutters coach Ian Millward praised his side's resolute defence as they came within a whisker of holding Manly scoreless.

The hosts eased to a 26-4 win over third-from-bottom Sea Eagles at WIN Stadium on Saturday, ensuring they remain just a single point off the competition lead.

"I thought we defended outstanding," Millward said. "I was really impressed with [Manly's] competitiveness and their attitude and they kept coming.

"Our middle blokes last week were our Achilles heel in terms of defence, but they were outstanding [on Saturday]. The forwards definitely set the platform for a good victory."

Geoff Daniela's first-half double sandwiched a Leeson Ah Mau try to put the Cutters 16-0 up at the break despite several Manly raids.

Matt Ikuvalu crashed over for a late Sea Eagles consolation, only for Craig Garvey to quickly respond and ice an impressive win for the in-form Cutters.

"There wasn't a lot in the game and defensively we were really strong and took our opportunities," Millward said.

"Our line speed was very impressive and our ruck defence was really strong."

Front-rower Josh Ailaomai came in for special recognition from his coach, while Sam Williams, Kyle Stanley and Adam Quinlan - all fighting for a return to NRL - combined well in the halves.

"I thought that was [Ailaomai's] best game of the season," Millward said. "I thought a couple of forwards took a step back last week, but I thought they took some big steps forward and he was definitely a major contributor."

ILLAWARRA CUTTERS 26 (Geoff Daniela 2, Craig Garvey, Leeson Ah Mau, Will Matthews tries; Kyle Stanley 3 goals) defeated MANLY SEA EAGLES 4 (Matt Ikuvalu try) at WIN Stadium.

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