By PHILIP CHANDLER
Good wins at the weekend ensure the Wakatipu and Arrowtown Premiers rugby sides hold
extra cards going into qualifying finals this Saturday.
Wakatipu, who jumped clear into second place with a thumping 93-7 victory over Cromwell
Cavaliers, get another home game against Upper Clutha, whom they beat at the Queenstown Rec Ground 14-0 three weeks ago.
Should they win, they get a week off before making the preliminary finals.
If they lose, though, they get another shot at making the finals by playing — again at home — the winner of the Maniototo v Cavaliers elimination final, next weekend.
Meanwhile Arrowtown, in achieving a bonus-point 49-22 win over Matakanui to ensure a
fourth-place finish, travel away to play unbeaten Cromwell in a quarterfinal that doubles as a White Horse Cup challenge.
Again, if they win they’ll get a week off before the preliminary finals.
But if they lose they’ll get a home game, also next weekend, against the winner of Saturday’s elimination final between Alexandra and Matakanui.
These extra ‘lives’ come because the Central Otago comp for the first time has added an NRL-style finals format that gives bottom-four teams a backdoor way of qualifying.
Wakatipu coach Brett Anderson admits the romp over the Cavaliers was ‘‘probably not the
best preparation for us, but it gave us the opportunity to give a few of the boys who’ve had a big work load a bit of a break’’.
‘‘We’ve made sure the boys haven’t got a false sense of security.’’
Their last win against Upper Clutha was ‘‘a tough game, and they’ll be ready to bounce back as well’’, he says.
Arrowtown coach Dan Eyles says his side’s delighted to get a second shot this season at taking the prestigious White Horse Cup off Cromwell — they lost 33-17 in the first round.
‘‘We didn’t have our greatest game but we weren’t too far off.
‘‘Since then we’ve worked really hard on what we’re trying to achieve so we think we’ve got the team to beat Cromwell.
‘‘The last few times we’ve played them, we’ve played in Cromwell, so it’s not a field we’re
not used to.’’
Many of the team still had good memories from beating them there to win the 2019 championship.
Formerly not up for grabs during finals fixtures, the White Horse is this year in play for the
first two rounds of the finals, meaning if the Bulls wrestle it from Cromwell, they’ll hold it till next year.
Meanwhile, Wakatipu Wanderers last weekend beat Te Anau in Queenstown, 15-14.
On the charge: Nemo Gent looking for a gap during Arrowtown’s first-round game
‘Always gives 110%’
Having recovered from breaking the same finger in each hand, Arrowtown no.8 Nemo Gent should be fit again to face Cromwell this Saturday.
That’s welcome news for Arrowtown coach Dan Eyles, who says the 24-year-old’s ‘‘one of our big rocks in our forward pack’’.
‘‘Nemo’s always got an injury because he throws his body on the line, he’s a player you can always rely on to go 110%, no matter the opposition.’’
Though raised in Arrowtown, Gent’s only in his second season with the Prems.
He played in 2019, when the team won the comp, then broke his collarbone and separated his AC joint while trying to score five minutes into his first game for Otago Country — an injury that also took him out of play last year.
Gent believes the team can again go all the way this year — ‘‘the feeling is good’’.