Arrowtown players tackling unbeaten Maniototo in Saturday’s Central Otago competition final are taking heart from their previous encounter this season.
Arrowtown, playing away from home, drew 15-all with Maniototo in a regular season match-up two months ago.
The Arrowtowners stormed to 15-0 after 20 minutes on that occasion before Maniototo, spearheaded by dominant first-five Charlie Hore, replied with 15 unanswered points in the second half.
Hayden Finch, Arrowtown backs coach and player, recalls: “We put a lot of pressure on Hore in the first half but we let him control the game in the second half.”
Arrowtown aims to move Maniototo’s big forwards around the paddock in Ranfurly this Saturday, Finch says.
Coach Blair Wilce warns his Arrowtown team can’t just concentrate on Hore, a former Highlander.
“They don’t go unbeaten all year without being a good team.”
Arrowtown, which beat Wakatipu 26-8 in last Saturday’s semi-final at Frankton’s Events Centre, will be shooting for their third Central Otago title in a row.
The game is likely to be a competition swansong for a number of Arrowtown players.
Lock Guy Legg, pulling on the Arrowtown jumper for his 94th game this Saturday, is shifting to Southland. Club stalwarts Finch, Simon Spark and Nathan Pullar are also likely to pull the plug.
Hooker Pullar, who was originally going to retire after last season, has been integral to Arrowtown’s success with his pinpoint lineout throwing.
The team’s defence has also been crucial – in 14 games they’ve conceded just 64 points. Only Maniototo has a better defensive record, giving up 36 points from the same number of games.
Wilce and Finch both note their team is peaking at the right time.
“We’ve been aiming towards this part of the season for the last month,” Wilce says.
An Arrowtown supporters’ bus leaves Jack Reid Park at noon this Saturday.
In the Central Otago seniors division final in Wanaka last Saturday, Upper Clutha beat Wakatipu Wanderers 24-5.