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By PHILIP CHANDLER

First blood’s gone to Wakatipu in the annual ‘Battle of the Basin’ with Arrowtown, and that’s even before the rugby season starts.

Eight junior coaches from each club — including Arrowtown’s Hamish Wilton, pictured left, and Wakatipu’s Harry Fleming — played a rippa rugby match at the Queenstown Recreation Ground recently during a Queenstown junior rugby open day.

Each team was bolstered by junior open grade players — Charlie Rule and Ollie Kirk (Wakatipu) and Jed Crawford and Harry Martin (Arrowtown).

After two fast-paced halves, including some cheeky contact from both sides, Wakatipu prevailed 13-7, and kept the ‘Coaches’ Challenge’ trophy they won last year.

Players of the day were Brodie Johnston (Arrowtown) and Corey Tiananga (Wakatipu).

The open day — attended by 140 junior players — was hosted by Wakatipu Rugby Club and supported by parent volunteers and sponsors.

Junior rugby kicks off May 8, preceded by a pre-season sevens tournament this Saturday.

Meantime, the Wakatipu Premiers drew 15-all with Wyndham in a pre-season game last Saturday — the third pre-season draw in a row between those two teams. Arrowtown lost 40-7 to Invercargill’s Star.

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