A dynamic Kennedy combination has allowed Mounties to grind out a win in an extremely physical contest against the inform Illawarra Cutters, to stay four points ahead on the competition ladder.
Mounties have been the most consistent and impressive side in the 2016 Intrust Super Premiership NSW, with just one loss this season, and certainly proved their dominance within the opening half of the match.
The home side was given the first opportunity to run the ball in the game, picking up the first penalty of the match; with Scott Sorenson being the victim of an awkward tackle. Jacob Mayer led the charge for his side, gaining an ample amount of meters in their first set of six. Mounties capitalised on the early advantage, but were unable to execute with conviction; losing the ball five meters out from their own line.
With the Cutters escaping an early scare, their retaliation in the corresponding set was unable to pose any real threat to their opponents; with Shaun Nona quickly having to defuse the situation, kicking on the fourth tackle to give his side a chance to re-gather themselves.
Shannon Wakeman for the Cutters took on the line, pushing Adam Quinlan back 10 meters in a defensive effort. Although Mounties were quick to hit back, taking advantage of a penalty putting themselves into the Cutters danger zone again.
Maurice Kennedy proved to be instrumental for the home side, creatively pushing the boys across field, but unfortunately Adam Quinlan was able to swiftly cleanup Kennedy’s kicks and once again disallowing the competition leaders their first points.
Though it wouldn’t be soon before long for the Mounties with a quick play by captain Glen Buttriss down the right side of the field, opened up the Cutters defence before winger Eddie Aiono was able to score first points, Maurice Kennedy kicking against the wind unable to convert his efforts.
The Cutters were struggling to break through the Mounties defense with Kurt Mann finding space on his wing, before becoming all tied up by Mounties defenders.
A clever placed kick by Kennedy, almost saw the Cutters have to defend another set of six; before Izaac Thompson was able to break free from the tackle – giving the Cutters the boost they ever so needed; Levi Dodd quickly followed suit but once again the Cutters unable to come up with any points.
Eddie Aiono made a quick break from the scrum as second receiver, until Kurt Mann in a thrilling foot race was able to put him into touch, saving the visitors from yet another close call.
Mounties were not just winning the game so early on, but the ruck as well. Surprisingly, steering away of Kato Otto’s wing, who has undoubtedly been one of the Mounties star men this season.
Maurice Kennedy was able to secure the side a repeat set of six, forcing the cutters in goal just before half time – but once again unable to be rewarded for his efforts, with the Cutters just holding.
Although the victory was short lived, with an inside pass from Kato Ottio, caught Drew Hutchinson off guard allowing Jarrad Kennedy to cross just before half time; Cameron Phelps successful to put the Mounties in front.
The Mounties beginning to find there feet just before half time with another compelling foot race between Eddie anion foot race and Hutchison, before the winger was able to cut back inside and fend off two defenders neglecting his support players; before passing Zac Santo to score underneath the posts with the conversion unsuccessful by Phelps to put the side to a 16-0 lead at halftime.
The Cutters had the first opportunity in the second half, but were unable to pose any real threat with the home side making easy work of their efforts.
While in the Mounties return, a quick two pass play between Cameron Phelps and Eddie Anion saw the Mounties pick up right where they left off, dominating the match.
Until a kick out on the full saw the Cutters a 50 metre restart with the visitors making real use of the advantage of the penalty; with Thompson breaking through the defence and dropping the ball over the try line.
The Cutters attack held a lot more promise within the second half, with a scrum 10 meters out saw the home side scrabble in defence, with a ill-discipline mistake seeing the Cutters to once again receive a repeat set. The visitors finally being able to open their account for the afternoon with Levi Dodd left to his own device on the wing to score in the corner, the conversion by unsuccessful by Shaun Nona hitting the upright.
The Mounties became their own worst enemy in the second half, with consecutive penalties allowing the Cutters close to their own line on several occasions.
A scrappy effort from both sides saw an abundance of penalties, although an acrobatic effort from the Cutter’s Kurt Mann put the visitors back in the game with the conversion by Nona successful; the cutters trailing by six with 14 minutes to go.
The side with a boost in moral, to be short lived with Sam Coster knocking the ball on from the kick off, putting Mounties back in the game just 20 out from their own line.
The remaining 10 minutes saw the Mounties play smart football grinding out the Cutters before Maurice Kennedy & Jarrad Kennedy on his short side got the ball out to Kato Ottio to score in the remaining minutes of the game to push his lead to top try scorer to 14, with Mounties putting the nail in the coffin as Cameron Phelps converts his man’s efforts.
A short kick off gone wrong for the Cutters destroyed any chance of the side reclaiming the match, with Izaac Thompson being called offside.
With minutes remaining the home side were able to run down the clock, and seal their first home victory at Aubrey Keech Oval; defeating the Cutters 22 points to 10.
This article first appeared on NSWRL.com.au