Bulls dish out respect

White-line fever: Replacement Arrowtown lock Malcolm Sutherland shrugs off Alexandra defenders to score one of his two tries last Saturday PICTURE: JAMES ALLAN PHOTOGRAPHY

Excitement’s building for a ding-dong top-of-the-table rugby derby in Queenstown tomorrow.

The Wakatipu Premiers, who head the Central Otago competition with only one loss from 12 games, play second-placed Arrowtown on their Recreation Ground home turf at the earlier time of 1.45pm.

Arrowtown Bulls coach Simon Spark, whose side lost 29-17 to Wakatipu on their own ground in the first round, says the game will be a massive challenge for his side.

“[Wakatipu] are the benchmark – our guys know that if they want to get near them, they’ve got to put in a good performance.

“Our team’s looking forward to playing in Queenstown.

“It’s a good venue, it’s always a good crowd, and there’s a lot of friendly rivalries – a lot of us work together and do business together.”

Spark’s delighted with the Bulls’ six-tries-to-one 38-5 win over Alexandra in difficult conditions at the Queenstown Events Centre last Saturday.

“Our attitude was a lot better, our commitment on defence was a lot better.”

Assistant Wakatipu coach Simon Harper is also happy with his team’s form heading into the derby.

His side beat Upper Clutha 18-5 in a mud-bath in Wanaka last weekend – “it was very hard at the end to decipher which team was which”.

Harper says his players got a lot of belief out of the game.

He believes there’s a good chance the Rec Ground will be water-logged – “we’ll just prepare accordingly’.

“The boys are really looking forward to the challenge.”

Wakatipu had hoped to challenge Maniototo a week later for the White Horse Cup, but the Ranfurly-based side surrendered it to Cromwell last Saturday.

Harper: “That’s life and it’s not a bad thing.

“It takes away the distraction ‘cos the goal is to win the competition.”

Meanwhile the Wakatipu Wanderers, who beat Southland’s Tokanui 31-18 last weekend, host Gore’s Pioneer tomorrow at the Rec Ground at 3.15pm.