Wakatipu cousins opt for maimai.
Two Wakatipu Premiers rugby flankers ruffled feathers by skipping the White Horse Cup challenge against Arrowtown – to go duckshooting.
Club stalwart Grant Murphy, who co-coaches the Wakatipu Wanderers senior team, was disappointed cousins Ryan and Colin Pewhairangi headed for a maimai rather than for Arrowtown’s Jack Reid Park last Saturday.
“Especially for a challenge like that and a local derby as well,” Murphy says.
Home team Arrowtown won 28-16 to retain the prized trophy.
“It doesn’t get any bigger than that and you get some pretty good bragging rights if you come out on top,” Murphy says. “Duckshooting is not one day only – it goes on for a couple of months.
“I can’t imagine anyone was too amused.”
However Brad Patterson, who took the cousins’ openside berth – one usually substitutes for the other – defends his team-mates.
“If [duckshooting] is something you’ve been doing since you were a young fellow, it’s a family thing,” Patterson says.
“There’s no animosity in the team – there’s a squad of 25 players, it’s not two guys that are the team.”
Wakatipu co-coach Clark Frew also made duckshooting’s opening day but got back in time for the match and made an appearance off the bench.
Their absence gave the challenging team’s technical advisor, former 58-game Highlander Kelvin Middleton, 30 minutes in a Wakatipu jersey for the first time – enough for two big hits.
Former All Black Grahame Thorne, who recently shifted to Gibbston, was an impressed spectator. “[NZ Rugby Union boss Steve] Tew and his mates just don’t rate grassroots rugby any more, it seems.”
The crowd – officially about 500 but regarded by locals as the biggest seen at the park – was larger than at 90 per cent of club games he commentated on in Christchurch last year, Thorne reckons.
“The crowd was wonderful, full of fun and good-natured barracking, although I have always been anti booing/catcalling kickers as they take kicks.
“There was no quarter asked for or given but if it had been a main-centre ref there would have been at least five yellow cards – some of the tackling was too high and the use of boots in the rucks would have appalled the Poms.”
The only player given an early shower was Arrowtown substitute and club president Simon Spark, sinbinned in the 70th minute.
Thorne, who played 10 Tests from 1967-1970, was impressed with Arrowtown No 8 Daniel Iosefo and says the experience of centurion lock Jim O’Malley shone through. “I thought Wakatipu lost the plot and played the man too much.”
Another sideline spectator, former golf pro Greg Turner, was heard to mutter: “I hope [Otago Rugby Union boss] Richard Reid’s not here.
“This is a bigger crowd than they get for the Highlanders – and they’re happy!”
This Saturday Arrowtown will travel to Cromwell and Wakatipu host Matakanui at Queenstown’s Recreation Ground.
Premiers: Cromwell v Arrowtown, Cromwell, 2.45pm; Wakatipu v Matakanui Combined, Rec Ground, 2.45pm
Seniors: Cromwell v Wakatipu Wanderers, Cromwell, 1pm
Battle of Basin – Fans’ Eye View
Why it’s gotta be Wakatipu…
Damien O’Connell says: The players were taught a good lesson in playing pressure rugby last Saturday – there would probably only have been three guys in that team who had played in Arrowtown. It’s a different environment to play in, especially with the Arrowtown crowd because they’re so vocal and passionate.
They should bounce back against Matakanui this Saturday – [Matakanui] haven’t been that strong this season, though they’ll still be hard to beat.
We’ll have to pick up the pieces from last week in terms of combinations and probably a bit more mongrel.
My tip: Wakatipu by 20 points
Why it’s gotta be Arrowtown…
Andy Watherston says: Arrowtown’s defence is very structured, their discipline’s good, they’ll have too much firepower in round the forwards and they’ve got the patience to wait till Cromwell run out of ideas and just pounce on them.
Having had two successful White Horse Cup defences against two of the more favoured teams, confidence is running high.
They’re playing tremendous rugby as a team – there’s not a lot of individualism. They’re just getting the job done and getting the job done bloody well.
My tip: Arrowtown by 14