Dropsy curses Cutters in draw

Charly Runciman
Charly Runciman


His coaching career has spanned more than a decade in the NRL and English Super League, yet Ian Millward hadn't quite seen everything.

"I'll be honest, I've never been involved in a game where four times we've crossed the line - once in the first half and three times in the second half - and dropped the ball over the line," the Illawarra Cutters coach said after his side's nail-biting 12-all draw with the Warriors.

It probably best summed up an error-strewn match played in abysmal conditions at Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday which at least helped the respective sides notch their first point of the season.

Aided by the benefit of a howling breeze, the Cutters piled on 12 unanswered points in the first half.

And the response?

A neat 12 from the hosts in the second stanza, including a late try to New Zealand winger Jarred Wilson, his second of the game which denied the wounded Cutters all the spoils.

"I didn't think 12 points was enough in the first half with the breeze so we did really well to defend for long periods, but having said that we did create more scoring opportunities than them," Millward said.

"I thought it might have been more of a point lost.

"At 12-all you'd probably nearly take that before we went, but I've never seen the ball been dropped that many times in the process of scoring."

Willie Mataka twice had the ball dislodged from his grasp in the act of scoring inside the last 15 minutes to compound similar incidents involving Tyron Cranston and Josh Ailaomai earlier in the match.

Charly Runciman and Peter Mata'utia sparked the Cutters with four-pointers, but it was a disallowed effort to Nathan Green which infuriated Millward.

Green picked up a loose ball and raced 60 metres before being hauled down by Tuimoala Lolohea, but reached out and planted the ball next to the posts which would have almost certainly gifted the visitors an 18-point lead.

"He was tackled and his right arm was above the ground," Millward said. "He reaches out and scores which is a try for all money."


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