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The grudge match of the century is on this weekend in Queenstown where Wakatipu takes on the boys from the other side of the gorge in Cromwell. In the first game between the sides, the White Horse Cup was on the line - holder Cromwell retained the trophy as the game was supposedly drawn. The scoreboard mysteriously was not working and the majority of the crowd had Wakatipu winning by one but it was not to be.
My suggestion to heal the ever-widening rift between the clubs (similar to the Lucas v Muldrew rift at Kaik a few years ago!) would be for the Cromwell lads to throw the trophy on the bus and put it up for the game. If it's good enough for Auckland and the Ranfurly Shield, it should be good enough for Cromwell. I put this challenge to the Cromwell coach, captain and some stalwarts on my sojourn to Matak at the weekend but I got a surprisingly muted response - in fact, more of an emphatic no! At least put the trophy in the back window of the bus to really rub the salt in! Either way, it will be a hell of a game. Nothing like controversy to stir the blood.
The road trip to Omakau for the Matak v Cromwell game was glorious and, after a good lunch at Ophir, it was on to the Domain for the big game. Unfortunately, Matak was down to 14 inside two minutes when blindside Dave Kenny was red-carded for over-enthusiastic rucking and the game was over as a contest. Matak battled away manfully in a game of dubious quality and ended up going down by 30-odd. Matak rolled out a couple of secret weapons all the way from the badlands of Bozeman, Montana but, after discovering Speight's for the five days since their arrival, they were jaded weapons at best! What did amaze me was the number of players from both sides smoking outside the changing rooms after the game. The hospitality and speeches in the clubrooms was fantastic, apart from the Auckland ref who told the lamest joke imaginable - in fact, he still hasn't finished it! The Commercial was heaving for the test but fewer tequila sunrises would have helped!
Upper Clutha is putting up the Neil Purvis Memorial this weekend against the Maggots at Tarras so that is the other big highlight in Central this weekend. Neil's son, Ben, is still playing fullback for Clutha so I'm fairly sure the trophy will stay in Tarras - don't let me down, Ben, or I'll get Potter to drive through all your fences at Cluden!
Old Boys beaten
Clutha is the only unbeaten side left in Otago after - shock, horror - Old Boys unthinkably lost a game. They hadn't lost for 343 days and, you guessed it, it was to Valley both times. Not a good day for Old Boys all round as they arrived at Valley minus their playing strip - the manager has been summarily flogged. They should have been made to play bare-chested but 20 minutes after the scheduled kick-off they managed to get the game under way.
The seedy underbelly
The 10-a-side tourney that was to be played among the prem colts sides - those that had enough players - was supposed to take place last weekend but I'm hearing it was an absolute snafu, so not sure if any games were played! The women's final is on tomorrow between Varsity and Pirates on Logan Park 216, in yet another example of the metro committee treating finals with absolute disdain. Not good enough - sort it out! I hear the meeting between the club captains and the ORFU about representation into primary schools plus secondary school players in clubs is about to happen and, staggeringly, I haven't been invited, but will keep you all posted.
The word is an Otago manager has been found to replace ``Keepa'' and he may have close links to the High Veldt - more next week. The other great rumour emanating from Cableways is that Turnip Stadium in the Naki is not earthquake prone as first thought but is actually infected with P - wouldn't surprise me.
Lost to Highlander Connor McLeod last weekend, so I am officially a joke and mine host Mark Scully at the Ale House is broke. Anyway, I digress. On to Vinnie Isherwood this weekend and, as the Sharks couldn't win a guppy fish-eating contest, I'm staring another defeat in the face - sorry Sculls! Varsity thrashes the Sharks (12-) and consigns them deep into the bottom four, where they haven't been in a long time. Kaik (13+) finally wins big over the Spannerheads at the High Veldt. Harbour (13+) will destroy the Shetland Ponies at the Seafood Chowder to get its top-four aspirations back on track. The Eels (12-) slither into town and will just pip the Magpies at Bog Bathgate.