Wakatipu Premiers retain cup

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The Wakatipu Premiers convincingly retained the prestigious White Horse Cup for another year after convincingly beating Upper Clutha yesterday (Saturday).

The Wakatipu side – saving some of their best rugby of the season for their sixth and final defence of the cup – won 32-15 on a concrete-hard Queenstown Recreation Ground in freezing conditions.

A month earlier, they’d only edged Upper Clutha 9-8.

Wakatipu’s form had also been patchy leading up to yesterday’s game following a draw with Alexandra and their first loss of the season, against Maniototo, only a week earlier.

However, they turned that around at the very start of the game.

From a scrum in the middle of the ground, after Upper Clutha’s kick-off didn’t go 10 metres, Wakatipu halfback Steve Bruce made a scintillating break and then fed fullback Rhys Collins who had an uninterrupted run to the try-line.

Someone who’d have appreciated Bruce’s break was former 81-Test All Black halfback Justin Marshall, who filled in for injured captain Regan Pearce at first-five.

Wakatipu scored two other tries in the first half, both to centre Danny King, to lead 17-0 at halftime.

Winger Sam Wanne extended that lead to 22-0 before Upper Clutha scored a try.

Second-five Matt Nesbitt dotted down to further extended the lead to 27-5, Upper Clutha again replying with a try.

Replacement forward Raf Tuhia scored Wakatipu’s final try to take their tally to 32, Upper Clutha gamely battling on to score a third try before the fulltime whistle blew.