This Saturday sees the unusual spectacle of two Central Otago rugby semi-finals taking place just six kilometres apart in Queenstown.
Top-placed Wakatipu Premiers host fourth-placed Cromwell at the Recreation Ground while second-placed Arrowtown host Maniototo at their adopted Events Centre ‘home’ ground.
Wakatipu go into their game following consecutive losses to Arrowtown and Maniototo.
While not ideal, coach Justin Pewhairangi says it’s shown them what semi-final pressure is like.
“Cromwell are probably quite a similar team to us – they like to move the ball quite quickly from the breakdown.
“It’s just a matter of countering that and taking them on up front because that’s where we’ve been good all year.”
Pewhairangi says handling let them down in last Saturday’s 22-11 loss to Maniototo.
“As long as we get that right, I’m sure we’ll create some chances on Saturday.”
Wakatipu can also take solace from having beaten Cromwell in both their round-robin games this year, while Arrowtown have also beaten Maniototo twice this season.
Arrowtown coach Simon Spark says he’s “just happy to have a home semi”, but concedes their Ranfurly-based opponent will be a huge challenge.
“They’ve played a lot of semi-finals and finals over the years, they know how to win these games.”
Spark says he’s not over-confident because his side’s tripped over at this stage over the past two seasons.
“We’ve got to embrace that and use it as motivation.
“We know that if we front up with the right attitude and play the game the way we want to play it, we’ll put a lot of pressure on them, and if that’s enough to win it, so be it.”
Spark says it wasn’t ideal that Matakanui Combined, who were down on players, defaulted to them last weekend, though his players had a training run instead.
Saturday’s semi-finals both start at 2.30pm.