Home semifinal chance an extra incentive

There's always plenty at stake in local rugby derbies such as the Wakatipu-Arrowtown contest at the Queenstown Recreation Ground tomorrow, but there’s an extra incentive for the two sides on this occasion.

That’s because the winner will secure an all-important home semifinal when the playoffs start next month. And a home advantage is invaluable at the business end of the season.

Although only two points separate the sides, Wakatipu goes into the contest a firm favourite, having scored a massive 289 points, including 45 tries, in its five outings.

It claims three of the four leading individual try scorers — Danny Kayes (8), Brooke Wilson (7) and Michael Rewi (6) — and you have to go back four seasons to when Wakatipu last lost to its neighbour.

On top of this Arrowtown has injury concerns. Flanker Jules Webley is definitely out and three major contributors to the thrilling victory over Cromwell Goats last Saturday are in a race against the clock to pass fitness tests.

Arrowtown coach Simon Harper was enormously proud of his team’s gutsy decision to chase a try in the 80th minute when it could have settled for a 17-17 draw.

"We created a leadership group and collectively they agreed they would go for the win against a team they hadn’t beaten since 2019. It showed their desire to succeed," Harper said.

 - Bob Howitt

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