Jubilant Otago University students pack ''The Zoo'' at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night for the Highlanders' Super 15 clash with the Blues.
Promise little, deliver much - perhaps the Highlanders have
got it the right way round this season.
It was back to being plucky underdogs on Saturday for the
Highlanders, and they responded with a 29-21 win over the
Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
One win will never define a season, but this was what you
might call a cleanser for the beleaguered southern
The Highlanders' epic collapse last season left some ghosts
to be banished, and Saturday's display was a decent first
step towards their exorcism.
After they raced to a 24-0 lead in the first half , there was
an inevitable comeback from the Blues, desperate to prove all
the pre-season hype about them was more than hot air.
But it was the Highlanders' night, and they wore broad smiles
as they retained the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy.
Now, two questions remain: Can the Highlanders repeat their
winning effort against the Chiefs in Hamilton this week? And
will a first-up win lead to a bigger crowd for their next
Even boosted by students during Orientation Week, Saturday's
crowd could not break 16,000.
Hopes of a bumper double-header for the stadium were dashed
yesterday when the pre-season rugby league match between the
Warriors and the Broncos attracted fewer than 6000 fans.
More than 15,000 attended the same fixture a year ago, but
the time-slot and the loss of the novelty factor clearly had
an impact on the gate.