'Don't mess with me': Ox-like Arrowtown forward Joe Sluman shrugs off two Cromwell tacklers in last Saturday's thrilling game at Jack Reid Park. PICTURE: JAMES ALLAN PHOTOGRAPHY


You could probably sell tickets.

Today’s Battle of the Basin rugby clash in Queenstown between home side Wakatipu Premiers and Arrowtown shapes as particularly mouthwatering given how well the sides are going this year.

Wakatipu, after thrashing Matakanui 57-13 in Omakau last weekend, remain unbeaten and share the competition lead with Upper Clutha, whom they drew with the week before.

Arrowtown, after a thrilling 21-17 win over defending champs Cromwell last weekend, lurk just two points behind — their only loss, and then only by four points, coming against Upper Clutha.

Next Saturday, Arrowtown have an easy home game — just their second — against  Cromwell Cavaliers, to finish the round robin, while Wakatipu should beat Maniototo, even though they’re playing in Ranfurly, so, aside from bragging rights, this afternoon’s winner should get home advantage for the finals.

Arrowtown coach Simon Harper: ‘‘Get the win and we’ll get a home semi-final, pretty much, so there’s a big carrot dangling.

‘‘Considering at this stage we’re only going to have two home games this season, it would be nice to have three, maybe four.’’

Harper notes derbies are invariably very close, but concedes Wakatipu should get ‘‘some sort of advantage’’ playing at home.

‘‘I think the Rec Ground’s a unique rugby ground in Central Otago, it’s an interesting place  to play rugby, having played there myself.’’

He believes his side — who, bravely, and successully, went for a last-minute try to beat Cromwell rather than take an easy penalty to secure a draw — will be ‘‘very excited’’ about Saturday’s clash.

‘‘They’re looking forward to the challenge, they really are.’’

For his part, Wakatipu coach Brett Anderson says ‘‘it’s a massive game, it always is, Wakatipu v Arrowtown, there’s always a bit of banter around the town’’.

‘‘The atmosphere’s going to be definitely as good as it gets — it will be at the pinnacle of club rugby, really.

‘‘We’re starting to play some good rugby, and Arrowtown are starting to really hit their straps as well, so, looking forward to it.’’

He also agrees with Harper that home advantage will benefit his players — ‘‘it’s not nice going to the ‘Bull ring’ to play, so I’m sure they don’t like coming into town too much’’.

Kick-off’s 2.30pm.