Priming for White Horse showdown

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The Wakatipu Premiers rugby side face an extra burden in their first home game against Alexandra on Saturday. 

For the first time since 2006, they hold the prestigious White Horse Cup at the start of the year. 

Wakatipu last season wrested it off Maniototo and repulsed two home challenges – holders put the cup, donated to Central Otago rugby in 1926, on the line at every home game. 

“We’ve got a lot of defences in the next few weeks,” Wakatipu coach Damian Petre says. 

“If the players can’t get excited about that, they won’t be able to get excited by much. 

“In the build-up this week there’ll be a bit more emphasis on that cup and it will be a responsibility of some of those older players that worked hard to get it to let others know the importance of it. 

“While you’ve got it, you do what you can to hold onto it.” 

Petre isn’t concerned his team won’t be battle-hardened after two easy away wins – 44-3 against Matakanui Combined and 76-8 against Roxburgh last Saturday. 

“Like everyone else we’ve got a lot of new faces so it was important that we had those couple of games to get ourselves familiar with game plans and each other.” 

Petre’s impressed so far with his backs and loose forwards but says there’ll be more emphasis on improving set pieces during the next two weeks. 

Alexandra, who romped over Cromwell B last weekend after narrowly losing to Arrowtown, will be a good test, Petre says. 

Arrowtown face a big challenge at home this Saturday from Cromwell A. 

Arrowtown coach Hayden Finch, who watched Cromwell upset Maniototo last Saturday, says they have a very physical forward pack, tall locks and a good-tackling backline. 

“[But] we haven’t lost at home for a long time, we don’t like losing at home, so we have to go in there being confident.” 

The Wakatipu Wanderers have a bye this weekend. 

Last Saturday they trounced Matakanui Combined at home 50-12. 

Petre says it’s an unbelievable result. 

“They played extremely well – they probably sent a message to some of the other teams.” 

SATURDAY’S DRAW: Wakatipu v Alexandra, Queenstown Recreation Ground, 2.30pm; Arrowtown v Cromwell A, Jack Reid Park, 2.30pm