Alexandra is ‘‘very positive’’ about its chances of ending an eight-year drought in the Central Otago rugby final in Wanaka this weekend, its club manager says.
The team, which last won the final in 2015, secured its spot in this year’s game after a 25-21 semifinal win over Cromwell at Molyneux Park last Saturday.
Alexandra will have its work cut out for it, however, facing an undefeated Upper Clutha team which won its semifinal game against Wakatipu 20-13.
Alexandra Rugby Club manager Dai Johns said the club welcomed the challenge.
‘‘We’ve just come off four really good wins on the trot, and just can’t wait to get up to the Wanaka showgrounds with the final on Saturday.’’
Despite losing 40-7 in their last match-up with Upper Clutha this season, Alexandra would be a ‘‘far better’’ team this time around, Johns said.
‘‘Upper Clutha is obviously a really well-rounded team. From the front row to the fullback, they’ve got quality players and good positions.
‘‘They’ve obviously gone through the whole year undefeated, but as history sometimes tells us teams go right through to the final undefeated and the only game they lose is the final. And that’s what we’re picking.’’
Upper Clutha Rugby Club president Nathan Simon said that although the team would be going into the game as a ‘‘heavy favourite’’, it would not be taking the Alexandra team lightly.
‘‘Finals footy brings out the best in every team. There’s nothing left to play for apart from what’s ahead of you for the next 80 minutes.
‘‘Although we did beat them by about 40 points three or four weeks ago, that doesn’t mean jack going into the final.’’
Simon anticipated more than 2000 supporters would turn up to the final on Saturday.
Regardless of the outcome in the final, Johns said Alexandra had plenty to celebrate after the team’s performance this season.
‘‘We’ve had a fantastic year and to make the final is such a big thing for us. It just shows the spirit of the club and the way the boys have just stumped up this year.’’
The Central Otago rugby final kicks off at the Upper Clutha Rugby Club, in Wanaka, at 2.30pm on Saturday.