On the charge..Viliame Kaveinga takes on the Cutters' defence at Ron Costello Oval.
Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles began their 2017 campaign with a hard fought 12-all draw against a young Illawarra Cutters side at Ron Costello Oval, Shellharbour, on Saturday night.
Played over 3 x 20 minute thirds, the Sea Eagles were asked to soak up plenty of early pressure with the enthusiastic Cutters throwing numerous attacking raids at the Eagles' nest.
However the Sea Eagles’ first visit to the Cutters line came up fruitful with Kurt Aldridge burrowing across to score the first try of the match for a 4-0 lead.
The Cutters found their first points of the match with a long raid resulting in the home side crossing wide out to make it 4-all after the first 20 minutes.
The second 20 minutes started very poorly from both sides with the hot and humid conditions proving difficult for ball control.
The introduction of Dean Parata proved a master stroke with the hooker proving a handful for the Cutters. Matt Place also had an immediate impact with the half-back almost scoring from a good show and go but the scores remained 4-all at the end of the second 20 minutes.
The Cutters began the final 20 minutes with a try on the back of a Sea Eagles drop ball then crossed again soon after on the back of another drop ball.
The Sea Eagles hit back with four minutes left to play after quick hands sent Sarafu Fatiaki over wide out before a well-structured play saw Henry Raiwalui race away to score, locking the game up at 12-all.
Full-back Kyle Eather was dangerous each time with the ball. Forwards Tom Amone bent the line with each hit up while skipper Brendan Attwood got through a lot of defence, tackling anything that moved.
Sea Eagles Coach Pat Weisner was very impressed with his team's first hit out of the year.
“The back end of the second 20 minutes was good with much better structure and more winning of the rucks,’’ Weisner said.
“We stuck to our structure in the last 20 and we started to play some good footy.”
Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles will play a second trial match against North Sydney Bears on Saturday, February 18, at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. The match will be played prior to the NYC and NRL trials between Manly Warringah Sea Eagles and South Sydney.
The Rabbitohs will host the trials.
Gates open: 3.10pm
NSW Cup kick-off: 3.15pm
NYC kick-off: 5.15pm
NRL kick-off: 7.30pm.