Waka’s up for the challenge

You beauty: Ref Damon Smith signals a try to Wakatipu’s jubilant Timoci Naivaluwaqa in their game against Cromwell last weekend, with teammates Toby Higgins, left, and James Valentine also on hand to celebrate

The Wakatipu Premiers rugby side’s well primed to challenge undefeated Upper Clutha for the White Horse Cup in Wānaka this afternoon.

Though Waka went down at home to Upper Clutha in their first-round clash 28-14, it was their only loss of the season so far, and was effectively sealed after conceding two early intercept tries.

‘‘We’re on the right trajectory,’’ Wakatipu coach Jordan Manihera says.

‘‘I’m really excited to see what we can produce over there this week.’’

Manihera says they’ve made ‘‘some big tweaks to our game plan’’, and made adjustments to get certain players involved earlier in the game.

Tellingly, they kept Upper Clutha scoreless in the second half last month.

Two weeks ago, they put on an awesome second-half performance against Alexandra, then last weekend they put away Cromwell in atrocious conditions, 28-10.

Wakatipu’s forward stocks were boosted last Saturday by young prop Timoci Naivaluwaqa, who played tighthead even though he’s a loosehead, no.8 and player of the day Anton Huisman, who returned from injury and finished on the wing, and former Moana Pasifika player, lock Don Lolo, who finally got a start ‘‘and had a massive influence as well’’, Manihera says.

‘‘[Assistant coach] Kapa [Te Rangi Moeke] and I are starting to get some really good headaches in terms of selections now, I think it’s a good position.’’

Meanwhile, Arrowtown lost away to Alexandra 16-14 last weekend after being 16-0 down just after halftime — they’re at home to bottom-placed Matakanui Combined this Saturday.

Arrowtown host Matakanui Combined this afternoon, kick-off 2.30pm; Wakatipu v Upper Clutha in Wānaka, 2.30pm.

Topp players

Nine Wakatipu and three Arrowtown players have made the Central Premiers squad for the annual Topp Cup match against Southern — this year in Milton on June 1.

The Wakatipu contingent’s Paulie Tuala, Phil Kingsbury, Will Burdon, Tom Ria, Hawaiki Tohu-Gregory, James Valentine, Anton Huisman, Jamie Natapu and Rube Peina.

Arrowtown’s reps are Ben Carr, Adam Jackson and Ben Sisson.

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