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The focus in Central Otago club rugby this weekend swings away from the Cromwell Goats and Upper Clutha and on to battlers Maniototo and Alexandra, who face challenging matches against formidable opponents Wakatipu and Arrowtown.
Maniototo has the home advantage against Wakatipu. In 2019, it stole the White Horse Cup from Queenstown and last year it stretched Wakatipu to 30-23.
No teams find it easy at Ranfurly.
“It’s a classic farm boys versus townies encounter,” Wakatipu coach Brett Anderson said.
Wakatipu goes into the game without its standout hooker Jake McEwan, who is carrying an injury from the Arrowtown game. His replacement is Ross Henderson, who wore the No6 jersey last Saturday.
Maniototo is coming off a frantic win against Matakanui Combined, clinching victory in the 81st minute with a Jack Wild penalty.
Maniototo has the same core of players as last year but has been struggling to put phases together.
Hopefully, that would change tomorrow, Nicholson said.
The team has talent along the backline, notably Doug Smith, a nimble winger, and five-eighth Wild.
Forwards who have been making an impact are No8 Sam Pringle and lock Joe Browett.
Alexandra is in a positive state of mind for its clash with Arrowtown at Jack Reid Park.
Manager Marty Rendall said the team was a couple of props down through injury but was otherwise well prepared.
Arrowtown could be missing three or four of its key performers.
Fullback Blair Foster is definitely out, while prop Tomo McKenzie and hooker Ben Carr are both doubtful starters.
On the positive side, the five duck-shooters who went AWOL last weekend are back, most notably the captain Malcolm Sutherland.
Competition leader the Cromwell Goats should enjoy a romp at home against Matakanui Combined, while Upper Clutha should enhance its tryscoring against the Cromwell Cavaliers, at Wanaka.
- Bob Howitt