The Wakatipu Premiers rugby side survived a late rally by Cromwell to win its Central Otago semi-final 24-23 yesterday (Saturday).
Defending champions Wakatipu appeared to have an insurmountable 24-10 lead with about a quarter of the game left.
But urged on by screaming fans on the Queenstown Recreation Ground embankment, Cromwell secured a penalty then two tries to leave them one point behind with a simple conversion to come.
The Cromwell kicker missed, however, and the Wakatipu players were jubilant when the whistle blew several minutes later.
After Cromwell opened the scoring with a penalty, Wakatipu piled on 12 unanswered points from a try to loosie Henry Youngman and a converted try to Raf Tahura in the first half before Cromwell scored a converted try right on halftime.
Wakatipu then blew its lead out to 14 points with well-worked tries to halfback Steve Bruce and centre Danny King.
King’s try, which was converted, came off a break by replacement prop Inoke Vi.
Cromwell three months ago had also given Wakatipu a fright in Queenstown, only losing the lead six minutes from the end.
Wakatipu will play this Saturday’s Central Otago final at the Queenstown Events Centre against Maniototo, who beat Arrowtown 29-6 in Ranfurly in the other semi-final played yesterday.