Goats at their best against Arrowtown

Maniototo's Dean Chalmers looks for an opening in the dying minutes in the Country clash with...
Maniototo's Dean Chalmers looks for an opening in the dying minutes in the Country clash with Alexandra at Molyneux Park on Saturday. Alexandra prevailed 20-12. PHOTO: ADAM BURNS
With their fullback Kane Dodds and halfback Ben Maxwell starring, Cromwell Goats demonstrated they are definite contenders for the Central Otago premiership title with a convincing 26-5 win over Arrowtown at Jack Reid Park on Saturday.

When the Goats lost their opening two games of the season, to Upper Clutha and Wakatipu, it seemed they might be vulnerable against the competition's high flyers.

But Saturday's victory, by three tries to one, demonstrated that the Goats have all the components to be there at the business end of the competition.

The backline is decorated with dangerous attacking individuals, from strong-running midfielders Hayden Todd and Rhys Harrold to speedy winger Ollie James,
livewire halfback (and goalkicker) Ben Maxwell and the talented Dodds, who started at fullback and finished in the first five-eighth jersey.

Only desperate defence prevented the Goats scoring a sackful of tries.

They were held up probably half a dozen times, centimetres from the Arrowtown goal line.

Even so, the three they managed brought their try tally from seven games to 42.

It will be a good measure of how far the Goats have developed this season when they take on Upper Clutha at Wanaka - the occasion that will finally celebrate the opening of Upper Clutha's new clubrooms, at the beginning of the second round next Saturday.

Arrowtown could point to the absence of co-captains, lock Malcolm Sutherland and halfback Jackson Wallace for its disappointing performance.

But coach Aidan Winter was not buying into that.

"We had 22 fit players out there and we did not perform well enough. Our option-taking was poor and we kicked away too much quality ball," he said.

Arrowtown's best were lock Alexander Gunson and centre Tom Grandiek.

The team has the bye next weekend, followed by Queen's Birthday weekend, so will not play again for three weeks, by which time all its star players should be fit.

Alexandra pulled off the surprise of the round, downing Maniototo 20-12 at Molyneux Park, a result that delighted manager Marty Rendall.

"We're a young team and the guys took huge encouragement from that White Horse Trophy performance against Wakatipu the week before, he said.

"The players are starting to believe they can take these other sides out."

Alexandra's best was hooker Shane Fulton.

Wakatipu went on the rampage against the Cavaliers at Cromwell, scoring 11 tries in winning 71-5. Blindside flanker Willie Blake had a storming game.

Wakatipu will defend the White Horse Trophy against Maniototo on Saturday.

 - Bob Howitt

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