Derby shapes as classic contest

Derbies do not get much better than that scheduled for Jack Reid Park in Arrowtown on Saturday when Wakatipu challenges Arrowtown for the White Horse Trophy.

A huge turnout is expected to watch the contest between these two unbeaten sides.

The occasion is made extra special by the fact the Arrowtown club is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

In the 1980s, Arrowtown and Queenstown were one club, operating as Wakatipu. But the 21km gap between the two towns eventually led to Arrowtown breaking away and becoming its own entity.

There have been some classic contests between the two clubs in recent times and this year's battle should be no different.

Arrowtown demonstrated its readiness for this much-hyped event by overrunning Cromwell Cavaliers 49-10, while Wakatipu escaped from its clash against defending champion Upper Clutha with a draw, hanging on desperately for the last 10 minutes with 14 men.

Wakatipu coach Brad Robertson admits there was plenty to work on following the Upper Clutha game.

"I was happy with our defensive effort at Wanaka,'' he said.

"The focus since then has been more on our attack.''

He admits his players are "pretty excited'' about the local derby.

"It's going to be a great occasion. We're thrilled to be part of Arrowtown's celebrations.''

Arrowtown has a couple of injury concerns.

No8 Nemo Gent is definitely out while lock John Morrison will need to pass a fitness test.

Otherwise, the team which has claimed maximum points from its first three matches is ready to go.

"Although we won really well against the Cavaliers, we were guilty of ill-discipline after building a big lead,'' manager Ben Finn said. "There was plenty to work on.''

Naturally, the Arrowtown players are wanting to turn on a vintage performance for all those who have assembled to celebrate the club's anniversary.

It should be a cracking occasion.

  • The White Horse Trophy dates from 1926, having been presented by White Horse Distillers Ltd.

Cromwell was the inaugural holder, its first defence being against Alexandra.

Early holders included Becks, Tarras, Bannockburn, Gimmerburn and Ida Valley, clubs that are all now defunct.

Although the trophy is commonly referred to as Central Otago's equivalent of the Ranfurly Shield, there is a significant difference - only the holder of the White Horse Trophy at the end of the season gets their names engraved on the cup.

Temporary holders do not feature. Arrowtown combined with Queenstown in 1953 to become Wakatipu. It would be 27 years before it won the trophy, Arrowtown re-emerging as a separate entity in 1989.

 - Bob Howitt


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