Ranfurly shields cup challenge


Having attended to White Horse Cup business at home, the Arrowtown Premiers rugby team approach their toughest away game on a high. 

They take on the Central Otago competition’s only other unbeaten side, Maniototo, in a top-of-the-table battle this Saturday. 

“It’s the hardest thing to do, to go to Ranfurly and get a win, but we’re definitely confident,” coach Blair Wilce says. 

He insists the team will “go out and relax” after the pressure of defending the White Horse Cup – Central Otago’s Ranfurly Shield – in three of their first four games. 

Wilce was happy with his side’s continued improvement in the 19-5 home win over a niggly Clyde last Saturday.
Arrowtown’s depth also shone through after the team’s three loosies were missing due to sick­­ness, injury and duckshooting. 

“We have 26 to 28 guys at training, so for each position there are almost two players,” Wilce says. 

“Each year there seem to be half a dozen guys arrive in the area and either go to Wakatipu or us. I don’t know what it is but this year they seem to have come to us.” 

Wakatipu Premiers co-coach Kelvin Middleton is also upbeat this week. 

|Despite no training because of rain, they beat Cromwell 16-8 last Saturday.

The way things were against us, it could have easily gone the other way,” Middleton says. 

The game was relocated to an Events Centre outer ground because the Recreation Ground was too soggy. 

But Middleton’s disappointed the team wasn’t given use of the more sheltered main oval. 

“Let’s not make it a Carisbrook where only certain teams are allowed on it.” 

Because the only other home match Wakatipu has hosted this season – the Super 14 curtainraiser on April 10 – was also at the Events Centre, the team still hasn’t played on its own turf after four rounds. 

“We can’t wait to go back to the Rec Ground,” Middleton says. 

Weather willing, that’ll happen on Saturday when they play third-placed Clyde. 

Middleton’s keen for his team, lying fourth in the competition, to stop blowing point-scoring chances. 

“Week after week we’re making good opportunities but the final pass is really lacking.”