The Wakatipu Premiers dominated the second half to take the prestigious White Horse Cup off Arrowtown in a fine rugby spectacle on Saturday.
In the first half, Arrowtown, playing on their home ground, Jack Reid Park, scored two tries and led 12-3.
Wakatipu, however, replied with two tries to lead 15-12 at the break, then extended their lead through two second-half tries, including an intercept, to 29-12.
Arrowtown scored a consolation converted try to narrow the final score to 29-19.
Arrowtown’s try scorers were Angus Larsen, Adam Dunn and Lawrence Wadham, while Kapa Moeke, with two tries, player of the day Tom Kelly and Luke Crofts dotted down for Wakatipu.
Played before a large crowd in beautiful autumn conditions, the game was hard-fought, and featured a brawl near the sideline in the second half.
Speaking straight after the game, Arrowtown coach Simon Spark says he was disappointed, “but the rugby man in me says we were beaten by a better side”.
“We did put them under pressure for long periods, which they deal with really well, and I think that was probably where they won the game.”
Delighted Wakatipu forwards coach Russell Kelly says the game was “a great local derby”.
“Arrowtown are a great side, there’s no doubt about it.
“We knew we had to come out firing – we probably didn’t but we knew we also had to absorb some pressure, which we did.”
Kelly says that last season, when Wakatipu finished seventh, was their “annus horribilis – we played some terrible rugby”.
However they’ve put that behind them this year, and the side are unbeaten and top of the Central Otago table after six rounds.
For their first White Horse Cup defence this coming Saturday, they’ll face a formidable challenge from Maniototo at the Queenstown Recreation Ground.