Upper Clutha not playing in Wanaka until May

The Upper Clutha side after winning the Central Otago banner last year. PHOTO: SEAN NUGENT
The Upper Clutha side after winning the Central Otago banner last year. PHOTO: SEAN NUGENT
Central Otago rugby administrators know how to launch a fresh season: they have paired off the teams that battled out the 2018 final - Upper Clutha and Cromwell - in tomorrow's opening round at the Cromwell Domain.

Upper Clutha won the 2018 final 27-8, the first time the Wanaka-based club had claimed the premiership in 39 years.

Upper Clutha is determined to build on that success, although its fans will not be cheering their heroes at home until May, when they host Arrowtown, because the clubrooms are being renovated.

Until then, Upper Clutha has three away games, starting tomorrow, and one ``home'' game, against Wakatipu, at Tarras.

Upper Clutha and Cromwell met three times in 2018 and the home team (Wanaka twice, Cromwell once) was successful each time.

Coach Paul Glynn moulded Upper Clutha into a potent combination last season and the pack was particularly formidable.

Flanker Fraser Dowling and No8 Jack Gilchrist operated as co-captains but the 2019 leadership has yet to be announced.

The team has gained a couple of bulky forwards in Joe Cairns and Brendan Murdoch. Others to keep an eye on are loose forward Sam Calder and halfback Luke Hume.

The Goats will confront Upper Clutha tomorrow, not to be confused with the Cavaliers, because Cromwell has such an abundance of players it is fielding two premier teams this season.

Many of the Cavaliers, who are playing Alexandra at Alexandra tomorrow, turned out for Clyde Earnscleugh last season, but Clyde Earnscleugh has not mustered enough for a premier squad this year.

The Goats have a pair of new coaches in Matt Brailey and Matt Ludeman, who are looking to play an exciting brand of rugby, with a solid tight five, quick loosies and a talented backline.

Players to watch are first five-eighth Dane Edge and Alex Grogan.

The Cavaliers, whose coaches are Paul Tait and Jason Clark, bring a mixture of youth and experience look forward to tangling with the established clubs.

In other matches tomorrow, Maniatoto hosts Wakatipu at Maniototo and Matakanui takes on Arrowtown at Omakau.

Each team will pay seven home and seven away games over two rounds. The finals will be played in early August.

Add a Comment