Prems ready to atone

Battler: Wakatipu captain Bradley Cross rumbles forward in the clutches of Maniototo's Sam Pringle PICTURE: JAMES ALLAN

Returning to the winning formula of the first part of the season is the focus for the Wakatipu Premiers against Matakanui Combined this Saturday.

The team is coming off an 18-20 loss at home to the Maniototo Maggots last week, relinquishing the White Horse Cup in the process.

Coach Justin Pewhairangi says they want to rediscover some attacking mojo.

That means stretching the opposition with multiple phases and getting the ball out to the edges.

“What we’ve done well in the first four or five games was moving teams around the field and attacking them out wide. We’ve gone away from that a bit with these arm wrestles in the last two games, and just need to get the ball in our hands.

“The work has always been there – they’ve defended like champions – we just need a bit more clarity of thought and more accuracy.”

They will not be taking Matakanui for granted.

“I’ve noticed from their results in the past few weeks they’ve got closer and closer to the top teams.

“It seems they’re getting quite a few players back from injury and getting more solidarity in their squad.”

The competition is so even, a team only needs to lose a few key players to risk being tipped over, Pewhairangi says.

Several players went down with injury last weekend. But among the troops filling their spots is Raf Tuhura, who started the season as captain but broke his arm in the first round.

“We’ve got a lot of faith in our squad and lot of players to choose from who we think can do the job for us.”

Playing without the White Horse Cup on the line will also ease a bit of pressure.

“We can just play our game and not put more pressure on ourselves.”

The team gradually faded last Saturday in the face of a second-half onslaught by the Maggots, tackling themselves to a standstill against a big forward pack grinding forward with pick-and-drives, he says.

“They slowly wore us down. They played to their strengths and we probably went away from our strengths, and at the end of the day that was probably the difference.”

Wakatipu play Matakanui at the Queenstown Recreation Ground at 2.30pm. Arrowtown Premiers are hosting Maniototo and the Wakatipu Wanderers are playing Waikiwi away.