Ouch: Wakatipu halfback James Valentine’s flattened by an Upper Clutha tackler last weekend; as the result of another tackle, which he executed, Valentine broke a cheekbone in three places, prematurely ending his season PICTURE: JAMES ALLAN PHOTOGRAPHY

After an indifferent season, the Wakatipu Premiers rugby side, Central Otago champs last year, can still make the semis, in fourth place, if they beat bottom-placed Matakanui Combined at home this afternoon.

They got into this position by losing only 31-27 to undefeated Upper Clutha at home last Saturday and picking up two bonus points.

Ironically, if they win their last round-robin game this weekend, they’ll play Upper Clutha again — this time in Wānaka — in the semis the following weekend.

Despite losing last Saturday, coach Brett Anderson was stoked with their performance, especially being 20-7 ahead at halftime.

‘‘We knew we had to up our ante and I think the boys responded really well to the messages during the week — they fired up and we brought a bit of aggression and a bit more feeling to our game, and definitely sprung out and surprised them.

‘‘We sort of took a step in the right direction without quite finishing it off.’’

Anderson’s asking his players to turn on a similar performance today against Matakanui — kick-off’s 2.30pm at the Queenstown Rec Ground.

‘‘They’ll be hard to beat ’cos they love coming up here and trying to tip up the townie boys.’’

He’s also hoping Upper Clutha and Cromwell have a good ding-dong White Horse Cup battle this Saturday ahead of, hopefully, their semi in Wānaka — ‘‘the Upper Clutha boys might be starting to feel a bit tired and battered after a couple of big games’’.

Meanwhile, Arrowtown missed the top-four after wins by Alexandra and Maniototo last weekend put paid to their prospects, so this afternoon they’ll be playing their final game — away, against Alex — purely for pride’s sake.

Coach Simon Harper says, having beaten Maniototo before last weekend’s bye, they’d ‘‘finish on a high’’ if they also beat Alex.

Look who came along

Among the Queenstown Rec Ground crowd last Saturday was Tokoroa-raised former Irish rugby international, Issac Boss, who’s been holidaying in the resort.

He’s pictured with another Tokoroa product, Wakatipu’s captain for the day, Tom Ria, who invited him along.

‘‘He’d come down and coach us when we were playing under-45kg and he was playing for Ireland,’’ Ria, 26, says.

‘‘He’s like a family friend — he’s family friends with everyone in Tok, he’s the unofficial mayor.’’

Ria says Boss, who’s still playing Tokoroa club rugby at the age of 43, had offered to play for the Wakatipu Wanderers, if they were short of players, ‘‘but they had heaps’’.

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