Could history repeat?
The Wakatipu Prems last year met unbeaten Upper Clutha in a Central Otago rugby comp semifinal in Wānaka, smashing them 44-15 before going on to win the final.
This afternoon they’re going over the Crown Range to tackle again-unbeaten Upper Clutha in another semi.
But last year Wakatipu had lost only one game to that point — this year they’ve lost seven out of 12, and only snuck into the semis, in fourth place, after coming from behind to beat bottom-placed Matakanui Combined at home last weekend, 24-16.
Encouragingly, though, Waka have been competitive against Upper Clutha this season.
In an evening game in Wānaka, in May, scheduled due to duck shooting, they held them to 3-all at halftime before losing 19-3.
Then, a fortnight ago, they led 20-7 at halftime before only losing 31-27 after surrendering two intercept tries.
‘‘This is the semifinal we wanted,’’ Waka coach Brett ‘Big Show’ Anderson says.
‘‘If you want to win you’ve got to beat the best.
‘‘We went over last year in the knockout game and gave them a wee licking, so they’ll be coming out for revenge, but we know the challenge ahead of us.
‘‘And it’s going to be a much bigger challenge ’cos I think they’re slightly better and I think we’re probably not quite as strong as we have been.
‘‘But we know we’ve got the team to do it, on the day, and in the last few weeks I think we’ve turned the corner, mentally.’’
Beast mode: Wakatipu’s Mike Rewi in action. PICTURE: JAMES ALLAN PHOTOGRAPHY
Anderson says they’ve struggled to field their strongest side this season, and even today will be missing two players.
‘‘We haven’t had the bounce of the ball yet this year, and semifinals would be a good time for it to start to go our way.’’
Going by last Saturday’s game, they’d do well to feed outside backs Mike Rewi, Logan Beggs and Jamie Natapu a lot of pill.
Meanwhile, Arrowtown last weekend lost their final game 36-5 to Alexandra, who’ll play Cromwell in Saturday’s other semifinal.
It means Arrowtown have finished second last in the comp after only three wins — ironically, two of them in Queenstown.