Tackle during pulsating finish saves Alexandra from defeat v Arrowtown

The cases feature a range of sports, but it is understood that rugby players make up a...
Photo: ODT files
Defending champions Alexandra survived a bizarre sequence of events in the closing stages of their game against Arrowtown at Molyneux Park on Saturday to sneak home 16-14 and consolidate themselves in third place in the Central Otago premier club rugby competition.

In bitingly cold wintry conditions, with the temperature around 4°C, Alexandra seemed to be coasting to victory when they opened up a 16-0 advantage soon after halftime. But then things started going awry.

First, Arrowtown fullback Ben Sisson scored a sweet try from a lineout, which Damian Ratwatte converted for 16-6, with about 20 minutes remaining.

Then the scoreboard clock stopped at the 65-minute mark, seemingly unable to operate in the frigid conditions.

While frustrating for spectators, it should not have affected the running time, with the referee controlling matters from his own watch.

But locals claimed the second half ran for 46 minutes.

During that time Arrowtown managed a second try, which reduced the deficit to two points, and set up a pulsating finish.

In the closing stages a defensive blunder by Alexandra provided Arrowtown with the opportunity it needed and when Ratwatte powered across close to the goalposts it seemed the visitors would be returning home triumphant.

But flanker Jamie Sutton somehow prevented him grounding the ball and Alexandra survived, hanging on desperately for the final few minutes.

Alexandra could thank their loosies for the win. Sutton made the all-important saving tackle, while Taura Wilson deservedly claimed the man of the match award and No 8 James Dobson scored the team’s first try.

When it came to loosies, Arrowtown’s 40-year-old veteran Aidan Winter provided all-important go-forward when he came off the bench at 16-0.

For some odd reason Arrowtown were interested only in tries, not three-pointers, turning down several simple penalty kick opportunities, including one in the first 90 seconds, which did not amuse coach Jackson Wallace.

"I’d have taken the three points each time," Wallace said.

"But I wasn’t on the field."

Wakatipu cemented themselves in second spot with a convincing 28-10 win over Cromwell at a frigid Queenstown Rec.

Accurate goalkicking by Rube Peina complemented tries by Conner Hamlin, giving him five for the season, James Natapu and Timoci Naivaluwaqa.

Cromwell sits fifth equal in the competition and they are going to have to lift their game to make the play-offs.

At Omakau, where conditions were brutal with snow falling throughout the game, competition front-runners Upper Clutha piled on 20 points in the last 12 minutes to beat Matakanui Combined 34-13 after trailing 7-8 at halftime.

Frost pots burning on the touchline provided warming comfort for spectators, but the icy conditions resulted in some spectators’ cars skidding into each other.

Prop Ben McKeich and centre Thomas Jarman scored tries for Upper Clutha and are the competition’s leading try-scorers with six each, while Brady Kingan contributed another 14 points to extend his season’s aggregate to 82.

Upper Clutha will now defend the White Horse Trophy against Wakatipu at Wānaka on Saturday.

By Bob Howitt