De­pleted Goats get bucked

Central Otago Mirror - - SPORT - Clutha 58 Cromwell 24

It was a Bal­clutha bridge too far for Cen­tral Otago rugby cham­pi­ons Cromwell.

Clutha put a damp­ener on the Goats’ fairy­tale rugby sea­son, win­ning 58-24 in the coun­try­wide fi­nal on Satur­day.

The coun­try­wide fi­nal pits the win­ners from the Cen­tral Otago and South­ern com­pe­ti­tions against each other in a fi­nal match of the sea­son.

On this oc­ca­sion, de­fend­ing coun­try­wide cham­pion Clutha was too strong at home in Bal­clutha.

Cromwell coach Paul Tait felt it was one game too many for his team, who beat a favoured Man­iototo 21-18 in the Au­gust 7 fi­nal at Alexan­dra.

‘‘I don’t think they [the play­ers] knew the im­por­tance of it,’’ Tait said.

‘‘Their fi­nal was the week be­fore.

‘‘This is my first year coach­ing and you sort of have to be a psy­chi­a­trist.’’

Tait took noth­ing away from Clutha’s per­for­mance, say­ing they were a ‘‘good team’’, but he felt los­ing some key men - like first-five An­drew Grubb - and hav­ing just 19 play­ers had an im­pact.

‘‘We started off pretty good [but] I could just sort of tell.

‘‘They [Clutha] picked holes where there were holes to be picked. The wheels fell off.’’

Clutha coach Ben Keach was ‘‘over the moon’’ with his team’s per­for­mance.

Keach said six weeks ago he never would have thought his side would be in this po­si­tion and com­mended his play­ers for step­ping up to the chal­lenge.

He lauded the play of his ‘‘lit­tle guys’’, hooker Max Pen­nell and half­back Jared Ed­wards, who out­played some big­ger op­po­nents.

Clutha makes it two coun­try­wide fi­nal wins in a row fol­low­ing last year’s vic­tory over Alexan­dra at Molyneux Park in Alexan­dra.

(Rhys Har­rold 3, Sylvester Reeves 2, Robin Fe­si­lafai, Jared Ed­wards, Matt Korteweg, Si­mon Grant, Max Pen­nell tries; Rhys Har­rold 4 con)

(Hay­den Todd, Danny Rus­sell, Blake McPhee tries; Ben Max­well 2 con, pen, Travis Mitchell con).

Half­time: 29-17.

LEIGH JEF­FERY

Joanna Wil­liams, of Wanaka, achieved the fastest women’s time with 2hrs 31mins and 33 secs.

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