Jubilant Wakatipu Premiers players have to dust themselves off to now play an Otago Country-wide final.
Game over: (from left) Wakatipu team-mates jump for joy after the final whistle
Fresh but party-weary after winning the Central Otago club rugby title last Saturday, Wakatipu face South Otago winners Clutha Valley at Clydesvale on Saturday.
Wakatipu coach Kelvin Middleton says they’re up for the season-ending club finale.
“We’ll have to ring around all the public establishments in town to find all our guys,” he laughs.
“I don’t think some have stopped celebrating – there’s been many shenanigans and every second was well worth it.”
Wakatipu downed Arrowtown 16-5 last Saturday at Alexandra, adding the Central Otago title to the coveted White Horse Cup which had already been locked away in the trophy cabinet.
It notched a 10-game winning streak for Wakatipu which suffered early in the season, copping hidings from Arrowtown and Clyde-Earnscleugh before going on the huge victory tear.
Middleton says: “We reassessed our game plan, simplified it and focused on using the talents of the players. It changed our whole season so it was a blessing in disguise, those two thrashings.”
Middleton says him and co-coach Damian Petre adopted a strict approach mid-week, keeping Tuesday and Thursday night trainings to no longer than an hour.
“The guys have huge commitments outside rugby and we agreed on that at the start of the year. The way we trained was all about the game plan and ensuring the guys enjoyed it.”
Captain Regan Pearce, one of Wakatipu’s most colourful rugby sons, says being given the leadership role helped mature his game.
“I think back to the start of the season when Kelvin told Mountain Scene I was going to lead the team whether he liked it or not. I’ve enjoyed the responsibility.
“I’ve got a bit of history with the club and been through some good and bad times with them so to be captain when we win the championship is very humbling.”
Middleton adds: “I knew Regan had it in him. He’s a leader. And I think the last two games – the semi and the final – he stood up. It’s the best footy I’ve seen him play.”
Meanwhile, the B team Wakatipu Wanderers just dipped out in their final, losing 22-17 to nemesis Roxburgh.
Central Otago final: Wakatipu Premiers 16 (Marcus Balchin try; Tony Farley penalty, Regan Pearce 2 penalties, one conversion) Arrowtown 7 (Hori Elers try; Dylan Fletcher
Otago Country-wide final: Wakatipu Premiers v Clutha Valley; Clydesvale, Saturday, 3pm
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