Unbeaten Arrowtown face a fired-up Alexandra rugby team keen for revenge at Jack Reid Park on Saturday.
After losing the White Horse Cup to Arrowtown 18-15 in April, Alexandra believe they can wrest it back, says coach Lindsay Breen.
His team is buoyed by their surprise win over Manitoto last weekend.
“Maniototo and Arrowtown play similar rugby so our preparation is as good as we could hope for.”
Breen adds Arrowtown has never beaten his team by many points.
However, he also pays credit to his rivals for repelling Upper Clutha, Wakatipu and Maniototo in their first White Horse Cup defences – “we thought they’d have a much harder time against those three”.
Breen accepts his team are underdogs but says they weren’t favourites either when they claimed the cup off Maniototo last year.
Arrowtown club president Simon Spark expects “a very, very tough game – it would make Alexandra’s season if they can take back the cup but we’re pretty attached to it”.
Spark, 38, was judged man of the match in his team’s 56-0 cup win over Clyde-Earnscleugh in Arrowtown last Saturday. “I think they felt sorry for me.”
The former player-coach has filled in at lock for the past two games after an earlier career as a back but he expects to be on the bench once more this Saturday. Kickoff is at the earlier time of 12.30pm to allow players and supporters to get to the All Blacks Test in Dunedin.
It’s the turn of the Wakatipu Premiers – sitting equal-third with Alexandra on a congested points table – to play Clyde-Earnscleugh on Saturday, this time on the road.
Last weekend they beat Cromwell away 21-11, a performance that wasn’t perfect but left assistant coach Clark Frew “pretty happy”.
“With every game we play, we’re getting better.”
On the following two weekends, Wakatipu face major challenges at home from Maniototo and Arrowtown.
Battle of the Basin – Fans’ Eye View
Why it’s gotta be Arrowtown…
Grant Adolph says: I feel Arrowtown have a good mix of experienced players in the backs and the forwards who are making good calls during the course of the game – like Hayden Finch and Reece Winter in the backs and Aidan Winter and Simon Spark in the forwards.
They were impressive right across the park in their emphatic win over Clyde-Earnscleugh last Saturday.
The home-ground factor will help this weekend.
My tip: Arrowtown by 12 points
Why it’s gotta be Wakatipu…
Glenn “Scooter” Reid says: We’re starting to get stronger at the business end of the season.
It’s taken half the season but we’re starting to look like a team, which is encouraging. Combinations are going well, which is fantastic.
Probably our backs are our strongest area but we’re good all round.
My tip: Wakatipu by 30 points