Jersey confusion but result not in doubt

Upper Clutha hooker Joe Cairns sets off on a run against Maniototo, at Wanaka on Saturday....
Upper Clutha hooker Joe Cairns sets off on a run against Maniototo, at Wanaka on Saturday. Maniototo's Nathan Huddleston comes in to make the tackle. PHOTO: MARK PRICE
Cromwell Goats' club rugby fans went home from Saturday's cracking 38-7 victory over Wakatipu at Anderson Park believing Hayden Todd had scored a hat trick of tries.

Well, yes, Cromwell's No12 did score three tries, but what the supporters did not know and what had even team management confused, was that Todd and his fellow midfielder Rhys Harrold had swapped jerseys in the changing room before taking the field.

And it was Harrold, not Todd, who went on the scoring spree.

Both Harrold and Todd had been members of the Central Otago representative team that beat South Otago in the annual Topp Cup contest the previous Monday, and they consistently shredded the Wakatipu defence on Saturday.

A scorching break by Todd set up Harrold's first try and he benefited from sweetly-timed passes from his classy halfback Ben Maxwell to score the other two.

A howling wind threatened to disrupt the game but both sides adopted an attacking policy, as if they were operating on a balmy autumn afternoon, and it made for a hugely entertaining contest.

It was another player with 12 on his back who dazzled in the first half - Wakatipu midfielder Tom Kelly, who kept scything through until he eventually set up flanker Tom Ria for a try beside the posts.

Wakatipu, battling into the gale, was right in the contest at 7-all with just 12 minutes remaining in the first spell.

But two stunning tries to Harrold gave the Goats a 21-7 halftime advantage.

Downwind, Wakatipu was expected to prosper in the second half, but from the moment its winger dropped a pass with the tryline beckoning in the second minute, it was never in it.

Cromwell's scrum began to overpower the men in blue, Stefan Blakeborough and Cody Mitchell took control of the lineout and flanker Daniel Hurring was into everything, leaving Maxwell, Todd and Harrold to provide the finishing touches in the backline.

The victory marked Cromwell flanker Quintin Dynes' 50th, blazer, appearance in the nicest possible way.

Wakatipu has its injury problems but, on this performance, it has got a long way to go if it wants to be competitive come play-off time.

Upper Clutha maintained its lead in the competition with an eight-try romp against Maniototo, which was missing its inspirational captain Willie Miller.

It was Upper Clutha's first official home game in 2019, marking the opening of the club's handsomely renovated clubrooms.

Man of the match honours went to Upper Clutha's young lock Lachie Garrett.

Maniototo looked to be saving itself for next weekend's first defence of the White Horse Trophy against Cromwell Goats.

The major surprise of the weekend was Alexandra's 18-14 win against Arrowtown at Molyneux Park, dramatically reversing the first-round result.

Arrowtown led 14-5 but Alexandra struck back, in the challenging windy conditions, with a try by lock Luke Dwyer and three important goals from Tua Wilson.

Alexandra's man of the match was replacement prop Hohepa Terata-Taituha.

The win pushes Alexandra to within five points of Arrowtown and it has the bye (worth five points) next weekend.

 - Bob Howitt

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