By PHILIP CHANDLER
In qualifying finals today, the Wakatipu and Arrowtown Premiers rugby sides would dearly love to win, however they get a second crack if they don’t.
Top-of-the-table Wakatipu play fourth-placed Cromwell Goats in Queenstown, while third-placed Arrowtown meet second-placed Upper Clutha in Wānaka for a bonus second shot at taking the White Horse Cup off them.
Unbeaten Wakatipu confirmed their top position, giving them home advantage through the finals, by thrashing Maniototo 36-3 in Ranfurly in surprisingly-good conditions last Saturday.
In their round-robin game against defending champs Cromwell, they had an excellent 38-10 away win.
‘‘We’re pretty conscious we inflicted a wee bit of damage on Cromwell earlier in the year, and they were missing a couple of key guys, so they’ll come back a much stronger side,’’ coach Brett Anderson says.
In the Central Otago comp’s NRL-style finals format, if Waka lose this Saturday they’re not out of the woods — they then play a bottom-section winner the week after.
However, if they do win they get a week off.
Anderson says winning’s preferable ‘‘because you can keep your level the same, whereas if we drop this one, per haps the other teams in the bottom four aren’t quite as competitive and it might allow our standards to slip’’.
He’d also like extra time ‘‘to prepare for those big finals’’.
Meanwhile, Arrowtown head into the finals underdone after last Saturday’s home game against Cromwell Cavaliers was abandoned due to snow — the game was postponed till Monday, however the Cavaliers defaulted.
They head to Wānaka this Saturday with a second chance to wrest the prestigious White Horse Cup off Upper Clutha — the last game the cup’s up for grabs this season.
Arrowtown lost their first challenge just 22-18.
‘‘Talking to the boys, they know they didn’t put their best foot forward that night, so that’s promising,’’ coach Simon Harper says.
‘‘We’ll go across with the right attitude and just do our best.’’
If they win, they’ll get another week off, which would be good for their injured players, Harper says.
If they lose, they’ll then host a game next Saturday against a bottom-section winner.
That would only be their second home game this season — their only other scheduled game at Jack Reid Park was against Maniototo, but they pulled pin due to Covid.
Today’s games kick off 2.30pm.