The usual intensity of an Arrowtown versus Wakatipu Premiers rugby derby will be ramped up even more this Saturday.
Wakatipu is coming to Arrowtown to try to wrest the White Horse Cup off a side who snatched it off them in the first ‘Battle of the Basin’ clash this season, in Queenstown back in early May.
“It probably doesn’t get much better, sporting-wise,” new Arrowtown coach Drew Carmody says.
“We won it off them so the last thing we want to do is let them take it back off us.”
Arrowtown’s extra motivation is that a team doesn’t get its name engraved on the cup unless it holds it at the end of the Central
Otago round-robin competitions – which in Arrowtown’s case means it has to fend off Wakatipu this Saturday, then the formidable Maniototo side the following week.
As Wakatipu coach Damian Petre puts it: “The best time to hold the White Horse Cup is at the end of the season – if we get our hands on it this week it will probably be quite good timing.”
Petre accepts that Arrowtown, the only unbeaten side in both the first round and the current top-six round, is the odds-on favourite.
“They’re a very difficult side to play, they haven’t lost yet, we’ve lost four times.
“But I don’t mind a bit of a punt and I’d be putting a bit of cash on Wakatipu if I had some to spare.”
Petre’s confidence is based partly on the fact that for the first time since pre-season he’s got a full muster of players to choose from.
“I think our backs are good enough to match theirs, I certainly think our forwards are good enough to match theirs, so it’s going to be a pretty even contest across the park so it’s going to make it a good game to watch,” he tells Mountain Scene.
Carmody is confident because his team’s still improving – despite struggling to beat Clyde-Earnscleugh last weekend, it had its best game of the season against Cromwell A the week before.
“Historically, it’s our forward pack that wins us games.
“We do have a very strong forward pack again this year but I think this is the first year in a number of years where we’ve had a backline that can contribute a bit more as well.”
Carmody, however, believes his side’s biggest strength is its team spirit: “I think it shows probably mostly in our defence – we scramble really well, we don’t give up.”
Meanwhile, the Wakatipu Wanderers have a bye in their bottom-five competition this weekend after a rare 17-13 home win over Roxburgh last Saturday.
Saturday’s draw: Arrowtown v Wakatipu Premiers, Jack Reid Park, Arrowtown, 2.30pm