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Captain fantastic: Arrowtown skipper Malcolm Sutherland on the rampage against Upper Clutha in his 100th game for the club. PICTURE: JAMES ALLAN PHOTOGRAPHY

By PHILIP CHANDLER

Despite tough away games this Saturday against Maniototo and Upper Clutha, Arrowtown and Wakatipu Premiers rugby coaches are confident they’ll prevail.

Arrowtown headed off Upper Clutha, 20-16, at home last weekend, and despite a long
second-half break for a visiting player to be ambulanced off the field, ‘‘we probably played some of the best rugby we have all year [in the second 40],’’ co-coach Dan ‘Pup’ Eyles says.

‘‘We showed that things are really starting to gel as a team and starting to work really
nicely.’’

He says it was also a good way to laud captain Malcolm Sutherland’s 100th game for Arrowtown and Connor Bissett’s 50th.

‘‘[Sutherland] definitely got fired up, which is good to see.’’

Eyles says ‘‘especially for Arrowtown it’s always very tough going over to Ranfurly [to play
Maniototo], so we’ve got to be on top of our game’’.

‘‘We have to take them upfront, because they’re going to be strong in the forward pack.

‘‘If we can get our forward pack rolling like we did on Saturday, we’ll hopefully come away with the win.’’

Sad sight: Upper Clutha no.8 Mike Donald lies prone with a neck injury on Jack Reid Park last Saturday

Wakatipu Prems, meanwhile, beat Matakanui in Omakau last Saturday, 45-17, after racing out to a 40-0 halftime lead.

‘‘They definitely got off the bus early,’’ co-coach Grant ‘Spud’ Murphy says.

‘‘If we can put in an 80-minute performance like that [first 40], it will be pleasing.’’

He admits Upper Clutha will be ‘‘a good challenge for us, they’re a good, fit team’’.

‘‘They’re never an easy team to play anywhere, but I think we’ve not got a bad record in
Wanaka — it’s not that far to go, the air and the altitude don’t affect us too much.

‘‘I think we’re getting better in smaller amounts each week, and especially our forward pack has grown, and I think that will probably be our big weapon against Upper Clutha.’’

Wins for Arrowtown and Wakatipu, who’ve each only dropped one game, to comp leader Cromwell, will improve their prospects of a home semi.

Meanwhile, Wakatipu Wanderers, who lost 41-7 to Waikiwi last weekend, play Tokanui at
the Queenstown Rec Ground this Saturday — kickoff’s 3pm.

scoop@scene.co.nz