Despite losing 20-13 to unbeaten Upper Clutha, in a nail-biting rugby semifinal in Wānaka last Saturday, Wakatipu Premiers assistant coach Tom Kelly believes his side saved their best to last.
With the crowd at fever pitch, Upper Clutha conjured up the winning try in the last minute, just minutes after Waka drew level with a try by prop Will Burdon, nervelessly converted by Logan Beggs.
Kelly, who, like coach Brett Anderson, is stepping down after three years in charge, says ‘‘the boys were obviously disappointed, but from the coaching side we were pretty proud of the players’’.
‘‘It’s been a pretty up-and-down season, following last year’s success, and then to put a game together like that, when we really needed to … it really could have gone either way.
‘‘Defence is an attitude thing, and that’s what they turned up with.’’
In the equivalent semi last year, Wakatipu rocked Upper Clutha 44-15 before beating Cromwell in the final.
‘‘After last year’s performance over there, I think they were pretty wary of that.’’
As to why he and Anderson are pulling pin, Kelly says it’s time to let other coaches with some different ideas come through.
He believes they’re leaving the side in good hands, with up to 10 or 12 key players probably returning next season.
By combining the good parts out of what they’ve provided the team with what a new coaching group will bring, he’s hopeful their successors will form an even stronger team.