Wakatipu and Arrowtown rugby team bosses maintain both start Saturday’s premier final on an even keel despite contrasting recent fortunes.
Wakatipu’s winning streak continued – it’s now nine in a row – with a convincing 19-11 semi-final win over defending champions Maniototo in Queenstown last Saturday.
At the same time, Arrowtown snuck into the final with a winning 84th minute try against Clyde-Earnscleugh at the Events Centre.
Their 21-17 victory was their first in four games – in their previous match they came from behind to draw with lowly Alexandra.
Arrowtown and Wakatipu now face off in the final being controversially played in Alexandra this Saturday.
Wakatipu captain Regan Pearce says his team’s table-topping performance might suggest they’re favourites but it doesn’t count for anything now.
“We’re one-all against Arrowtown this year.
“They gave us a fair old spanking in the first round and that game out at Jack Reid Park was a very tough battle that could have gone either way.”
Arrowtown coach Hayden Finch says his team was lucky to win their semi-final but doesn’t accept underdog status this Saturday.
“As I’ve always said, when we play Wakatipu it’s even, no matter what.
“It doesn’t really matter what’s happened in the past.”
Finch says his team needs to cut out the silly mistakes it’s been committing.
The final will be influential Arrowtown captain Aidan Winter’s swansong before he heads to Germany. It’ll also be lock Daniel Dodds’ 100th game. It’s also Arrowtown’s fifth final in successive years – it lost the previous two after winning the first two.
Wakatipu, which didn’t make last year’s semis, already has the coveted White Horse Cup tucked away for the season.
“It’s great to have tucked that away, but now we’re ready to put the duvet on,” Pearce says.
Saturday’s game may also be Pearce’s final game.
“I said to the wife that if we win the competition this year I’d retire.”
Both Pearce and Finch say it’s a shame the game will be played in Alexandra – both clubs are putting on supporters’ buses.
“It would have been one of the biggest crowds around if it was at the [Queenstown] Rec,” Finch says.
The Wakatipu Wanderers play Roxburgh in Saturday’s senior competition final – also in Alexandra – after beating Upper Clutha 22-18 in their semi-final last Saturday.
FINALS RUGBY: Wakatipu Wanderers v Roxburgh, Alexandra, 1pm, Saturday; Wakatipu Premiers v Arrowtown, Alexandra, 3pm, Saturday