Semis challenge

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The Wakatipu and Arrowtown Premiers rugby sides need to go where they haven’t gone this season to win their Central Otago semi-final games this Saturday.

Second-placed Wakatipu have a home semi against third-placed Cromwell at the Queenstown Recreation Ground after a controversial draw and a loss to them in round robin play.

Fourth-placed Arrowtown travel to Wanaka to play top-placed Upper Clutha, who’ve thrashed them 25-3 and 49-12 this season.

Wakatipu surrendered their top-of-the-table position by losing 18-12 to Maniototo in Ranfurly last Saturday, after their loss to Arrowtown a week earlier.

Looking ahead to Saturday, their co-coach Brett Anderson says: “I’d almost say we’re the underdogs.

“We haven’t been playing great and Cromwell have been going alright and beat us at home just a few weeks back. The intensity we bring in the forward pack needs to be higher and our accuracy and finishing in the backline needs to be higher.”

Anderson agrees there’ll be some feeling after the Cromwell ‘draw’ but hopes they’ll put it aside and “let the passion of playing the game take over”.

Arrowtown coach Simon Spark, whose team locked away the White Horse Cup for the season by beating Matakanui Combined 29-8 last weekend, admits they face “a massive challenge” in Wanaka this Saturday.

However, he says they’re excited to have made the semis and are motivated to put in a good performance after that second-round towelling.

“That was probably a low point of our season and we took stock and realised we have to change some stuff.”

He thinks, too, that the pressure will be on Upper Clutha as they’ll expect to win.

“Our focus is being in the contest at halftime and not 30 points down like last time.”

The Queenstown and Wanaka games kick off 2.30pm. The Wakatipu Wanderers, mean-while, play Blues in a Southland division 2A semi-final in Invercargill this Saturday.