It’s semi-final fever for rugby

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Upper Clutha’s premiers rugby coach declares Arrowtown are favourites going into Saturday’s Central Otago semi-final in Wanaka. 

Hamish Crosbie says that’s because Arrowtown has been a finalist for the past three years and deliv-
ered “two good pastings” to his team in April. 

But Arrowtown coach Simon Spark, while confident of winning, says Upper Clutha has improved since then. 

Last Saturday he snuck over to Tarras to watch Upper Clutha lose just 25-24 to unbeaten competition front-runner Maniototo, while his players beat last-placed Alexandra 24-12 at home. 

“Upper Clutha played probably the best of the rugby for 78 minutes then just let in that one try,” Spark says.
“They’re pretty physical upfront and they counter-attack well from the back. 

“The key word for us this week is defence – it’s got to be huge.” 

Crosbie says his team’s defence also has to be staunch: “You’ve got to knock over Arrowtown’s ball runners – if you give [loosies] Aidan Winter, Ben Chisholm and Dan Iosefo room, they’re pretty hard to stop.” 

Spark says his players were inspired while watching Winter box in Mountain Scene’s Thriller in the Chiller last Sunday – he’d played a full 80 minutes of rugby the day before. 

Winter lost his pulsating Battle of the Basin bout to Wakatipu Premiers coach Kelvin Middleton. 

Last Saturday Middleton’s team beat Matakanui-Combined 30-17 but finished fifth in the round robin. 

Wakatipu were to have played eighth-placed Alexandra at home this Saturday but Alexandra has defaulted. 

The Wakatipu Wanderers play Roxburgh in the final of the senior reserve competition at the Queenstown Recreation Ground at 2.45pm this Saturday.