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When a team is averaging seven tries a game, it is remarkable the leading try-scorer is a forward.
But that is the claim of Cromwell Goats blindside flanker Daniel Hurring.
The Goats comfortably defeated Maniototo 33-10 in the Central Otago premier club competition on Saturday to complete their qualifying matches with the maximum 35 points.
The Goats will go into this Saturday’s semifinal against Wakatipu — a team they put 60 points on in round two — chock-full of confidence and with the important home advantage.
Hurring, a 28-year-old scaffolder who came to Cromwell from Christchurch, dotted down twice in the 33-10 victory at Anderson Park on Saturday.
It seemed dynamic midfielder Hayden Todd would emerge as the team’s top try-scorer after he ran in a spectacular solo effort in the fourth minute, giving him six for the season, but Hurring’s relentless support play brought him a brace of five-pointers in a match dominated by the home side.
The result means the White Horse Cup is secure in Cromwell’s trophy cabinet for a second successive summer.
Maniototo came to Cromwell buzzing after its stunning win over Arrowtown. But it never achieved the same level of intensity a week on. It was 18-0 down after 22 minutes and 28-0 behind going into the final quarter.
Two late tries to two of its standout players, centre and captain Jack Wild and hooker Sam Pringle, salvaged a little pride.
Another individual to chalk up seven tries for the season was midfielder Oliver Stirling, who starred in Upper Clutha’s comfortable 38-5 victory over Alexandra at Molyneux Park.
Secure in second place, Upper Clutha took the opportunity to give some its bench players an outing ahead of next weekend’s semifinal clash with Arrowtown.
Arrowtown rebounded from its shock loss to Maniototo to put away Matakanui Combined 43-15 at Omakau to cement third place.
Arrowtown’s assistant coach Dan Eyles said the team got its structure back, having deviated from its game plan against Maniototo at Omakau when it spent 80% of the game on defence.
Standout performers were fullback Blair Foster and blindside flanker Adam Hill, with Connor Bissett running things well from first five-eighth and contributing 13 points.
It was all one-way traffic at the Queenstown Recreation Ground where Wakatipu hammered bottom team Cromwell Cavaliers 81-10, scoring 12 tries in the process.
Man of the match was prop Dwayne Paul, although the most notable achiever was winger Garth Jones whose hat-trick of tries boosted his tally to 10 for the season, the best in the competition.
The semifinals are a repeat of what happened in 2019: Cromwell Goats will host Wakatipu at Anderson Park and Upper Clutha will be at home to Arrowtown in Wanaka.
- Bob Howitt