Cromwell Goats win White Horse Cup

The White Horse Cup. Photo supplied.
The White Horse Cup. Photo supplied.
Maniototo did outstandingly well to prise the White Horse Cup off Wakatipu a couple of weeks ago but was incredibly unlucky to have to defend it first up against a Cromwell Goats team on fire, having averaged 44 points a match in its last seven matches.

The confidence Cromwell brought to Ranfurly on Saturday saw it fashion a convincing 32-23 victory, after falling behind in the second half against the determined locals.

And it they achieved success with tactics diametrically opposed to Maniototo's.

Maniototo, which spelled several of its key players away against Upper Clutha the previous weekend, is most potent when driving powerfully off their captain and lineout ace Willie Miller.

It was no surprise that the try that put Maniototo ahead 16-13 in the 51st minute, and scored by hooker Sam Pringle, came off just such a drive, a replica of the match-winner in the final seconds against Wakatipu.

On that occasion about 12 of the Maggots joined in the surge to the goal line. On this occasion the forwards did it all themselves.

Finding itself suddenly three points in arrears could have caused panic in the Cromwell ranks. Instead it refocused attention on its game plan - to move the ball wide at every opportunity.

In doing so, the Cromwell side scored three cracking tries in the next 12 minutes to open up a commanding 32-16 lead, which proved too much for Miller's men.

The home team did manage a late try and spent most of the final 15 minutes parked deep in Cromwell territory.

It even introduced former All Black hooker Andrew Hore, who looked remarkably fit for a 40-year-old, but in the final reckoning had to concede the Cromwell backs were too fleet-footed.

The Maggots were 10 points down early after playing 10 minutes without a key loose forward, yellow carded for a dangerous tip tackle. That try was created by fullback Warwick Cheney, who several times in the first half ripped through flimsy defence.

Cheney scored a stunning second-half try after Cromwell stretched the Maniototo defence first left , then right.

Midfielders Hayden Todd and Rhys Harrold, who made it four tries in two outings, first-five Dane Edge and lively halfback Ben Maxwell all chimed in to keep Maniototo's defenders on full alert.

Cromwell has three home games coming up when the White Horse Cup will be at stake: next Saturday against Alexandra (which has already had two challenges this season, against Arrowtown and Wakatipu), Cromwell Cavaliers (June 29) and Arrowtown (July 13).

Upper Clutha, which demolished Wakatipu 46-10 in Queenstown, and Cromwell have opened up a break on the field and should achieve home advantage come semifinals time.

Upper Clutha and Wakatipu drew 13-all in the first round, but on Saturday it was pretty much one-way traffic, Upper Clutha finishing with seven tries after leading 20-10 at halftime.

Standout players for Upper Clutha were loose forward Sam Calder and second-five Oliver Stirling, who challenged Wakatipu with his tactical kicking.

Arrowtown rebounded from losses to Cromwell and Alexandra with a 50-13 thumping of the Cromwell Cavaliers.

Arrowtown co-captain Malcolm Sutherland made a welcome return at lock following injury and was named man of the match.

  - Bob Howitt

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