At first glance, the 29-5 scoreline in favour of the Upper Clutha Rams might suggest a one sided affair against the defending champions Cromwell over the weekend. However, the game was extremely competitive.
Were it not for a handful of blunders by Cromwell during scoring opportunities, the margin would have been far closer. Yet it was Upper Clutha who walked away with the bonus point win, courtesy of some clinical finishing and spirited defence.
The opening spell of the match was a true arm wrestle, but Cromwell appeared to have their first try when their winger strolled under the posts, only for Josh Roberts to force him outside the dead ball line before he could put it down.
Upper Clutha took advantage of the lapse by getting a try of their own to Jai Baxter who ran the perfect line, carrying two defenders over the line to score.
The Rams continued to show attacking flair as they scored a real team try which started with the forwards rumbling up the middle that created an overlap for George Gilchrist to dot down out wide.
Cromwell then blew another golden chance when their other winger dropped a routine pass with the try line open, but were soon to make amends as they scored just before the halftime whistle to bring the scores to 17-5.
The second half was all about defence, as Hamish Cooper, reminiscent of ‘Beaver’ Menzies in his distinctive headgear made a number of key tackles.
It wasn’t until the notorious 40-year-old talisman, Kelly Gooch, came on and made a huge impact on his 50th cap.
With Cromwell hot on attack close to the line, Kelly made an incisive one on one steal that halted the Cromwell charge and led to another try to George Gilchrist.
And in the final play of the match, Kelly broke through the defence and offloaded to Jai Baxter to bag a crucial four try bonus point. The icing on the cake belonged to Kelly as he landed a difficult conversion from out wide. It is unlikely we will ever hear the end of it.
Pictured: George Reed is pictured securing the lineout ball. Photo: Luke Robson