Goats store White Horse Cup away for off-season

A late penalty from Goats' co-captain Ben Maxwell helped Cromwell hold off Arrowtown in a tense White Horse Cup battle at Anderson Park on Saturday.

The home side was awarded a penalty with four minutes remaining on the clock after a retrieving Arrowtown player handled the ball in an offside position around their 22.

The 16-15 win ensures Cromwell finishes the regular season atop the Central Otago premier club standings, and can safely store away the White Horse Cup for another summer.

The Bulls may see it as an opportunity missed as a dominant set piece - particularly at scrum time, where it was one-way traffic - helped nullify Cromwell's usually fluent attack.

Cromwell was also reduced to 14 men in the 72nd minute, after tighthead prop Leilee Aholeei was shown a yellow card, following what appeared to be some off-the-ball niggle.

The Goats came out of the blocks hard and did a lot of the early running.

They were keen to keep the ball in hand as they played into a stiff northeasterly in the first half.

Efficient recycling of possession in the red zone enabled Goats No8 Asivorosi Serukalou to pick and go over the line to notch early points for Cromwell inside the first five minutes.

However, Arrowtown's scrum and lineout were operating like clockwork, and its rangy forwards were effective down the close channels.

Arrowtown No8 Nemo Gent surged over in the 17th minute from first receiver following a patient build-up.

The Goats hit back soon after, as openside flanker Daniel Hurring's spectacular chip and re-gather against the run of play almost set up his outside support.

The subsequent phases enabled first five-eighth Dane Edge to barge over the line to give Cromwell a 10-7 advantage.

Arrowtown held a 12-10 lead at halftime after prop Price Imach crashed over in the corner in the 31st minute.

But Cromwell regained the lead early in the second half as Maxwell banged over a 38m penalty.

The pressure and intensity of the game began to take its toll, as both sides were guilty of mistakes and the occasional forward pass.

The Bulls' scrum began to have a field day as it wreaked havoc in the final quarter of the game, culminating in a 69th minute penalty from 25m out, which Arrowtown converted to make it 15-13.

Cromwell hustled and consolidated in the final 10 minutes, despite being a man down and under the pump, but took its opportunities when afforded them, including Maxwell's final clutch play.

"The boys lifted when we went down to 14 men,'' Maxwell said.

"One of the Arrowtown guys said `don't miss it' [when lining up the kick], so I thought I better not, otherwise I'd never hear the end of it.''

Next weekend's semifinals are set for a pair of intriguing matchups - Cromwell hosts Wakatipu and Arrowtown travels north to face Upper Clutha.

Elsewhere in final-round action, Alexandra finished its season on a high as it beat Maniototo 20-12 in Ranfurly, after leading 8-7 at halftime.

A hat-trick from wing Angus MacCallum led Wakatipu to a 52-0 demolition of the Cromwell Cavaliers.

It will meet a tougher Goats outfit next week, though - a side that has already locked up some silverware.


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