Michael Witt gone for season as Williams' stunner gets Cutters home

Sam Williams on Saturday. Picture: ROBERT PEET
Sam Williams on Saturday. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Captain Michael Witt started the Illawarra Cutters' day on a sour note before halves partner Sam Williams ended it jubilantly as the NSW Cup's own cardiac kids pulled off a dramatic win over the premiers.

Williams potted a long-range field goal with barely on a minute left on the clock, subduing the injury-ravaged Cronulla Sharks 23-22 at WIN Stadium on Saturday.

It's likely to be his last memory in the Dragons' squad before he heads for the English Super League to play with the Catalan Dragons.

Once the euphoria dies down, the Cutters will be ruing Witt's season-ending knee injury as he limped off with a ruptured cruciate ligament inside the first 10 minutes.

It was then left to Williams, another No 7 who has been strapped into the Dragons' halfback hot seat this season, to run the show as the Cutters clawed their way back from an 18-point first-half deficit.

Sam Duggan, Collies' grand final hero in the Illawarra Coal League last year, had already tried a field goal before responsibility was shifted to Williams for his 40-metre effort.

"The first one I was going to take it and we were in each other's pocket so it wasn't something we looked at too much," Williams said.

"The first one we stuffed up ... the second one I put my hand up and it came off alright.

"It's one of those things you don't get a whole lot of opportunities to be in that position so when it comes off it's always pretty exciting. It was a game we sort of needed to win so it was good for us."

Williams' effort was more impressive considering he was making his return from injury with a broken thumb, aggravating it during his first tackle in the second half.

The Cutters werefacing a fourth straight loss after a Valentine Holmes-inspired Sharks took a 22-4 lead shortly before half-time but the first of Tyron Cranston's double two minutes before the break allowed the Cutters hope to ride roughshod over a tiring Sharks in the second half.

"I just thought we were a bit flat [early on], but as a collective group we really rose to the challenge in the second half," Cutters coach Ian Millward said. "I thought our forwards were outstanding and I don't think the scoreline was a reflection of the second half.

"I thought we smashed them up in that area in defence and attack. I haven't been worried about the losses because they've been close ones.

" Wenty are running first and Penrith are second. The performances have been really good, but I was more worried about our first half."

Millward heaped praise on his pack, which featured an 80-minute effort from Thirroul hooker Joel Johnson and tradesmanlike efforts from Rory O'Brien, an NRL player-in-waiting says his coach, and Shannon Wakeman.

On the winning field goal, Millward said: "Sam [Williams] was keen to do it and I just sent a message to get one of the Sams to kick it.

"They both pride themselves on the way they kick. I thought overall it was a pretty good performance."


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