When the French defeated the All Blacks in Auckland in 1994 with a try that traversed virtually the entire length of Eden Park, they referred to it as “the try from the end of the world”.
Just when it seemed the Cromwell Goats’ winning sequence in Central Otago club rugby was about to end at Anderson Park last Saturday, they uncorked their own try from the end of the world to snatch a one-point victory against a gallant Upper Clutha team.
The Goats were 11-5 down with 12 minutes remaining and desperately defending their goal-line when Upper Clutha accidentally turned the ball over.
A lesser team than Cromwell might have settled for a relieving kick to touch 21-match winning streak, are renowned as a team that can always find a way to win.
Against desperate defenders who refused to yield, six players handled as the Goats traversed more than 90m before being stalled inches from the goal-line.
In their desperation to keep their line intact, the Upper Clutha defenders incurred a penalty.
Three points were not going to change anything, so Goats skipper Ben Maxwell took a quick tap and put his faithful flanker Daniel Hurring across for the critical try that made Hurring Cromwell’s leading try-scorer for the third consecutive season.
However, for Cromwell to assume the lead for the first time in the game, it still required Maxwell to add the conversion, from about 8m to the left of the uprights.
“People are always saying to me that those are the kicks we goalkickers live for,” Maxwell said.
“Well, I don’t know about other goalkickers, but I hate those close ones because you’re expected to land them. Thank God, it went over.”
But the drama had not finished, with two minutes remaining, the Goats, now 12-11 up, kicked into touch on the full, presenting Upper Clutha with one last attacking opportunity.
The Wanaka players’ assertiveness earned them a penalty 40m out and in midfield.
It was eminently kickable.
However, Upper Clutha goalkicker Brady Kingan’s kick was a shocker, hooked well right of the goalposts, meaning that for the second time in 2021 the Goats had defeated Upper Clutha at Cromwell by one point.
It was a stunning final that neither team deserved to lose. The Goats achieved a slight edge in the scrums but the lineouts were shared, both teams stealing their share of opposition ball.
Upper Clutha coach Garry Hape said that far from sad faces in the dressing room after the game, there was music and smiles.
“The guys knew they’d given it everything. As a coach, I couldn’t have asked for more.”