The Wakatipu Premiers rugby team gets its name on the coveted White Horse Cup if it beats Cromwell this Saturday.
It’s Wakatipu’s second and final defence of the cup this season.
The side beat Maniototo to take the cup – Central Otago’s Ranfurly Shield – and then repelled a challenge from Clyde-Earnscleugh.
Wakatipu – which hasn’t had its name on it since 2005 – is fresh from beating Arrowtown 14-11 in atrocious conditions at Jack Reid Park last Saturday.
The win saw them leap-frog Arrowtown to the top of the Central Otago table.
Two veteran forwards making comebacks impressed for Wakatipu, which hadn’t won in Arrowtown in seven years.
No.8 Aaron Redaelli, 39 – a policeman who jumped into Lake Wakatipu two days earlier to rescue a floundering Puerto Rican – was player of the day.
“He has that great physical presence,” Wakatipu captain Regan Pearce says.
Pearce also hails Carrick ‘Rock’ McLellan, 37, who’s played more than 130 games for the Premiers but only one in the past two years.
“The guys were pretty excited that there was a big new frontrower.”
Pearce says the team won’t be complacent against bottom-of-the-table Cromwell, despite whipping them 63-0 in the first round. Cromwell beat Maniototo earlier this month.
“But with the way this team’s performing, I hope to put at least 20 on them.”
Pearce adds he’s personally disappointed with a controversial decision to host the competition final in Alexandra on July 21.
Hosting a home final in front of a local crowd is an incentive for a team to top the competition, he says.
The club also benefits from bar takings, he adds.
However, club president Damien O’Connell says the Wakatipu club supported the move to help promote rugby in Central Otago.
The Wakatipu Wanderers beat Upper Clutha 14-5 at the Events Centre in the Central Otago senior competition last Saturday.
SATURDAY’S DRAW: Wakatipu Wanderers v Cromwell Seniors, Queenstown Recreation Ground, 1pm; Wakatipu Premiers v Cromwell, Queenstown Recreation Ground, 2.45pm; Alexandra Premiers v Arrowtown, Alexandra, 2.45pm