It should have been a time for celebration.
But instead the Wakatipu Premier players – who’d just pulled off a last-gasp win over Arrowtown – gathered solemnly out of concern for an injured team-mate suffering from a nasty head knock.
Wakatipu won 16-10 after a converted try by John Noonan just minutes from the end. Until that point, Wakatipu had trailed Arrowtown for the entire game.
The win, which enabled Wakatipu to claim ‘The Cup’ for the first time in four seasons, was marred however by severe concussion to their centre Danny King.
King, who appeared to be accidentally kneed in the head when going in for a tackle late in the game, suffered severe concussion and was taken to Lakes District Hospital by ambulance.
King was transferred to Southland Hospital in Invercargill but is expected to be released today (Monday).
His teammates, rather than celebrating their win, gathered round him out of concern for his welfare.
His scans have come up relatively clear, Wakatipu coach Damian Petre said yesterday afternoon.
“I think he’s just got a bit of short-term memory loss. It’s never good to see someone go down with a head knock like that.
“We just wish him a quick recovery.”
The early stages of the game, played in unseasonably warm conditions at Arrowtown’s Jack Reid Park, were dominated by the home team.
Following a charge-down of a Wakatipu kick minutes into the game, bulky Arrowtown number eight Eddie Sefo led a charge to the try-line, and following a breakdown scored right under the posts.
Fullback Kane Dodds added the conversion then a little later nailed a penalty to put his team 10-0 up.
The Arrowtown forwards were particularly impressive and had their supporters cheering wildly when they drove a rolling maul about 40 metres downfield.
However the only other scoring in the first half was a penalty by Wakatipu skipper and first-five Regan Pearce which narrowed the gap to seven.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, Pearce kicked another penalty.
Arrowtown botched a chance to extend their lead back to seven points when Dodds missed an easy penalty.
As Wakatipu’s forwards gained ascendancy, Pearce turned down a chance to kick another penalty.
Wakatipu weren’t able to capitalise from the ensuing lineout, but when Arrowtown were penalised again, Pearce went for the three points to trail just 10-9 even though the game only had about five minutes to run.
Wakatipu’s winning try came from an overlap.
Their right-winger Stuart Vincent made a break down the touchline, offloaded to Rob Lund in the tackle, and Lund in turn made the final pass to loosef forward Noonan who dotted down behind the posts.
Vincent and Lund were both making their run-on debuts for the Premiers.
Pearce – who recently became a dad for the second time – successfully added the conversion to make the score 16-10 to Wakatipu.
Arrowtown were unable to score in the remaining moments before the final whistle blew.
“We were pretty fortunate to come away with a win but we’ll take it,” Petre says.
“I think it was a good test of the depth of our squad – we had about eight changes for this game from what we had starting last week.
“It was good to give some of those guys a run and for them to come out on the right side of the ledger was great.
“The spirit of the boys to hang on there for long periods of time when they were chasing the game a bit for 78 minutes was great – and the one opportunity they got, they took it.”
Wakatipu are now the only unbeaten team in the Central Otago competition after five rounds while the game was Arrowtown’s first loss of the season.
The Wakatipu Wanderers were beaten 32-7 in Wanaka by Upper Clutha.