Spectator spot for crucial battle

Upper Clutha club captain Jai Baxter will be a spectator at the Queenstown Rec on Saturday when his team does battle with Wakatipu in a crucial Central Otago club championship quarterfinal.

And as far as he is concerned there is some unfinished business to attend to.

Baxter was racing towards the goal line three weeks ago, when he came to grief in a double tackle that resulted in both his tibia and fibula bones being broken.

“The problem was my foot stuck in the mud and the leg had nowhere to go,’’ Baxter said.

“I grabbed my knee because of the pain and then saw the bone sticking out further down. That’s when I knew it was serious.”

Baxter lay on the field for 40 minutes until an ambulance arrived, after which he was transferred to Dunstan Hospital and then Dunedin Hospital, where he was operated upon.

At 35, Baxter concedes he will never play rugby again.

“In fact, I’ve been told I will probably never be able to run again.”

He was on the sideline for Upper Clutha’s game against Alexandra in Tarras last weekend and he will be cheering his colleagues on tomorrow, positive they can reverse the 14-0 loss from three weeks ago.

“We were just gaining momentum when I came to grief that day,” he said.

Wakatipu goes into the game as favourite following its remarkable 93-7 demolition of the Cromwell Cavaliers, its third straight victory after its shock loss to Maniototo.

In the other quarterfinal, the front-running Cromwell Goats take on Arrowtown at Anderson Park in Cromwell. At stake is not only a desirable spot in the semifinals but the White Horse Trophy, which has taken up almost permanent residence in Cromwell for the past couple of seasons.

Arrowtown coach Dan Eyles says his team is up for the challenge.

“We’ve been building nicely and we’ve got the team to give the Goats a good shake.”

In the bottom four, Maniototo should comfortably beat the Cavaliers, while Alexandra should be too strong for Matakanui Combined at Molyneux Park. - 

 - Bob Howitt

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