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Captain fantastic: Arrowtown's Malcolm Sutherland will bring up 100 games for the Bulls today. PICTURE: JAMES ALLAN PHOTOGRAPHY

By PHILIP CHANDLER

Having defended The Cup by drawing with Arrowtown, the Wakatipu Premiers this Saturday get a chance to claim one of New Zealand’s oldest rugby trophies.

They’ll travel through the Kawarau Gorge to take on old foes – the formidable Cromwell Goats – for the White Horse Cup.

Lacking any pre-season games, Wakatipu last Saturday played defending title-holders Arrowtown at the latter’s Jack Reid Park to open the truncated Central Otago season.

The teams eventually tied 17-all in a see-saw game-turned-nail-biter, which appeared to run over time by about 14 minutes, according to the clock.

Despite his fullback Chris Young missing two match-winning kicks, one grazing the posts, Wakatipu co-coach Grant says he couldn’t be prouder of how his side, containing about seven new caps, came together and withstood a determined Arrowtown.

“The boys all showed a lot of what I can’t coach, which was a lot of ticker.

“Hopefully, that puts us in good stead for Saturday because I think Cromwell will bring a very similar kind of game.

“They’re a very good side, they’ve been together a long time – they’ve got big forwards and they’re very hard to break down.

“The game’s likely to come down to the last 10 minutes, however long the referee lets it run for.”

Murphy says he’d like his side at play “a little bit smarter” than last Saturday and improve their kicking game.

An incentive to claim the White Horse Cup is they’d then only face three defences, as the delayed comp’s running over only one round.

Arrowtown co-coach Dan ‘Pup’ Eyles says if Wakatipu “play like they did against us, and for their second game after a hitout, I think they’ll go close”.

He’s also very happy with his side’s opening game – “we’re going to take a lot out of it”.

“Our forward pack was outstanding, especially in the scrum.”

His side’s home this Saturday against Cromwell Cavaliers – kickoff’s 2.30pm.

Though they weren’t a threat last season, Eyles says “we can’t take any team lightly, being only one round, so we’ll go full noise into this game – and expect nothing less from a firing Cromwell B”.

Meanwhile, Wakatipu Wanderers, following a 55-0 downtrou by Tokanui last Saturday, play Gore’s Pioneer at the Queenstown Rec Ground this Saturday in a Southland division one game.

Kickoff’s at 3pm.

scoop@scene.co.nz