Reigning champs Arrowtown kicked into touch pre-season jitters and concerns about a lack of forwards with a comprehensive win to open the new season.
The Otago Country titleholders swamped Matakanui-Combined – who beat the Bulls last year – in a 43-11 home win at Jack Reid Park.
“They were the only team that beat us last year so we were wanting to get a bit of pay-back, I suppose, and the boys stepped up,” says second five-eighth Reece Winter.
A minute’s silence before kickoff for club stalwart Ewan Edgerton – who died suddenly on March 15 – meant the Bulls didn’t lack for passion in the changing rooms and on the field.
Centre Shane Clearwater and Winter scored tries in the first half while fullback Danny Eyles, flanker Todd Adolph, replacement wing Jody Hampton and replacement halfback Tau Arona touched down after the break.
The worries about a lack of depth in the forwards were put to one side for 80 minutes. “We had a makeshift front row,” Winter says.
“Hori Elers played bloody well at prop for a No 8.
“[Matakanui] are usually quite physical on attack and they love playing 10-man rugby, but they didn’t have a chance [on Saturday].”
Arrowtown will hit the road this Saturday to play Clyde Earnscleugh, who, against predictions, gave White Horse Cup holders Alexandra a scare in the first round. Clyde led 7-6 at halftime and only a late try denied them glory.
A young Wakatipu Premiers team lost 29-17 to a strong Upper Clutha side in Wanaka. The Blues led 17-10 with two tries before halftime but Wakatipu’s lack of territory and possession meant the Merinos dominated the second half.
“It was a hard battle up front and I thought we competed reasonably well,” says coach Lindsay “Thommo” Thomas.
“We just lost to a better team on the day. We started the game well with a try and then we struggled to dominate.”
They face Cromwell at home this Saturday, as do Wakatipu’s second-graders the Wanderers, who were beaten first up by Upper Clutha’s newly revived seniors, 38-19.
PREMIERS: Clyde-Earnscleugh v Arrowtown, Arrowtown, 2.45pm; Wakatipu v Cromwell, Rec Ground, 2.45pm
SECOND GRADE: Wanderers v Cromwell, Rec Ground, 1pm
Why it’s gotta be Arrowtown…
“Our backs are always pretty sharp – they’re much the same as last year when no one could touch us.
“Certainly not Wakatipu.
“We’re obviously lacking in forwards, as everyone knows, but the boys that were there last week certainly stepped up. One week into it, I don’t think Wakatipu have a show.”
– Bob Dennison
Why it’s gotta be Wakatipu…
“I’ve been wondering how strong Matakanui are this year with Arrowtown winning so easily, considering they’ve got no front row.
“And, being an ex-Wyndham man, I’m wondering how many other Wyndham players Arrowtown are intending to import this year. “A warning to other teams – Wakatipu were short of quite a few players last week.
I’m sure Thommo’s had them hitting the bags all week as they displayed a resistance to tackling. I’ve got the utmost faith in them and the coaching staff!”
– Dave Anderson