A large Queenstown crowd watched the Wakatipu Premiers rugby side overcome a 17-3 halftime deficit to beat Maniototo yesterday (Saturday).
Wakatipu won 34-24 after racking up 31 unanswered points in the second half before conceding a converted try on the stroke of fulltime.
Maniototo, boosted by All Black front-rowers Andrew Hore and Tony Woodcock, ran in three tries in the first half.
They were looking on course to reclaim the White Horse Cup from Wakatipu, who’d taken it from them in Ranfurly last season.
Wakatipu captain Regan Pearce says his side was guilty of complacency: “We just took too long to get ourselves into the game”.
Pearce won’t divulge what was said at the halftime break.
“I don’t really think it’s for public knowledge, some of the words that were used, but it was enough to certainly make us have a look around the group and just realise what we needed to do.”
In the second half, Wakatipu fullback Rhys Collins showed outstanding skill in scoring two tries, centre Danny King also scored a brace, one of them an intercept, and replacement loosie Pita Wilson also dotted down.
“This game showed the heart and true character that this team possess,” Pearce says.
“And post-game I was even a little emotional that we worked as hard as we did to come back from the halftime score-line and never give in.
“I was bloody proud of the team.
“The crowd would have been 1000-plus – it was just great to be able to put a comeback out on the field and do it for the local supporters, it was pretty special.”
The game also marked former 81-Test All Black halfback Justin Marshall’s debut in Wakatipu colours.
Marshall, a Sky Sport rugby commentator, showed he’d lost few of his skills despite now being just months away from his 40th birthday.
“He was very good at talking to the ref and helping me out in my job,” Pearce says.
In other games played yesterday, Clyde-Earnscleugh thrashed the Wakatipu Wanderers, in a curtainraiser to the
White Horse Cup encounter, and Arrowtown beat Roxburgh, in an away game, 55-14, after leading just 20-7 at halftime.