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At a stretch: Arrowtown captain Malcolm Sutherland dots down against Alexandra last Saturday. PICTURE: JAMES ALLAN PHOTOGRAPHY

By PHILIP CHANDLER

This time it’s serious.

In tomorrow’s sudden-death semi-finals of the Central Otago rugby comp, Wakatipu Premiers are again home to Upper Clutha and Arrowtown are again away to Cromwell.

In a quirk of the new NRL-style finals format, that was also the schedule for the qualifying finals two weeks ago.

On that occasion, Wakatipu just beat Upper Clutha 17-15, after beating them 14-0 three
weeks earlier, and Cromwell, who are on a 20-match winning streak, beat Arrowtown
27-17.

Upper Clutha was allowed another ‘life’, which they took by beating Maniototo last Saturday, while Arrowtown stayed in the contest by beating Alexandra 27-3 at the
Wakatipu High School field, after Jack Reid Park was ruled out due to rain.

Arrowtown coach Dan Eyles admits ‘‘it’s going to be a tough old semi-final’’ against Cromwell.

‘‘We’ve played them twice now and lost twice — we’re going to have to be on probably our best game to get on top of these guys who are on an amazing winning streak’’.

They’ll be bringing a new game plan, he says — ‘‘how we try to take them on in certain areas of the field, we’re going to try and change up this time’’.

As a good omen, Eyles says in Saturday’s game against Alexandra, despite the conditions, ‘‘we played probably a better structure than we have all year’’.

Wakatipu coach Brett Anderson, whose team sat out last weekend, says his team had a good training last week to try to remain match-fit.

After two recent close wins over Upper Clutha, he’s expecting a backlash from the Wanaka-based side, ‘‘but you can only prepare as well as you can prepare’’.

‘‘We’ve just got to do as best as we can and be ready for the challenge at hand.’’

Tomorrow’s games at Cromwell’s Anderson Park and the Queenstown Recreation Ground both kick off 2.30pm.

scoop@scene.co.nz