10 years of Forsyth Barr Stadium memories

It seems like yesterday Otago sports fans bade farewell to their beloved Carisbrook and ushered in a new era with fancy Forsyth Barr Stadium. But, remarkably, a whole decade has passed.

Sports editor Hayden Meikle taps into his memory bank - and enlists his colleagues for their help -to reflect on the memorable games and the outstanding individual performances over 10 years.

He also names a best XV (rugby) and a best XI (football) based solely on performances at the stadium.

Memorable games

North Otago v West Coast (2011)

The first proper sports event at the new stadium. About 7500 watched winger Whiria Meltzer score a hat trick for the Old Golds in their 29-19 Heartland Championship win.

Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar (2011)

The Phoenix got pumped 5-1 by a slick Roar team coached by Ange Postecoglou, now at Celtic. But the 15,000 football fans — for a preseason game, no less — did not really care.

England v Argentina (2011)

The score (13-9 to the Poms) suggests this was a bit boring. But the first of four games the stadium hosted at the Rugby World Cup was played in an electric atmosphere with a wonderful crowd. Ireland-Italy three weeks letter might have been even better.

Highlanders v Crusaders (2012)

The first game of Super Rugby played at Forsyth Barr Stadium. The Highlanders win 27-24 in front of 23,600 fans but this is forever remembered for being the ‘‘clock game’’. Yes, the official scoreboard clock was running three minutes fast. There were frantic drop goal attempts and premature kicks into touch before the players realised what was happening.

Taieri v Dunedin (2012)

Eels first five Hayden Parker kicked a 47m penalty as Taieri came from behind to win a tense premier club rugby final.

All Whites v New Caledonia (2013)

Hardly a great performance — the All Whites rather bumbled their way to a 2-1 win — but it had been 25 years since the national men’s football team played in Dunedin, and the ending was dramatic as Tommy Smith scored the winner in the 94th minute.

Warriors v Broncos (2013)

The Warriors won the NRL preseason game 16-10. But the night is best remembered for Ruben Wiki tackling a streaker at halftime.

Highlanders v Sharks (2013)

The Landers — talked up majorly after recruiting some star players — were awful in 2013. This rare highlight, a 25-22 win, broke an 11-game losing streak.

Otago v Hawke’s Bay (2013)

Well, that was a fun nine days. Otago had won the Ranfurly Shield for the first time in 56 years the previous week. But the Magpies swooped in and stole it right away in front of 19,000 fans.

Highlanders v Crusaders (2014)

Late drama against the old enemy. The Highlanders thought they had stolen victory when winger Patrick Osborne scored a CLEAR try right at the end of the game. But the TMO said no go.

Newcastle United v Sydney FC (2014)

This was fun. Yep, that is Newcastle, as in the English Premier League club. It toured New Zealand and Australia, and Dunedin got this game while the Phoenix played West Ham at Eden Park. Veteran defender Fabricio Coloccini captained Newcastle, and well-travelled gaffer Alan Pardew was on the sidelines. The ‘‘Toon’’ won 4-0.

All Blacks v England (2014)

A thrilling 28-27 win for the All Blacks featuring an otherworldly performance from Ben Smith in his first test start at fullback and a crushing tackle by an over-zealous security guard on a streaker.

Kiwis v England (2014)

This was the first rugby league test in Dunedin in (gasp) 86 years. The Kiwis won 16-14 to make it three from three in the Four Nations. Jason Nightingale scored two tries and the other Kiwis try went to Manu Vatuvei — in the news for something quite different this week.

Highlanders v Chiefs (2015)

A barnstormer, a blockbuster, a brilliant night all round. This was a Super Rugby quarterfinal, and the first home playoff game for the Highlanders since the 1999 Super 12 final. Waisake Naholo scored two tries to lead the Highlanders to a 24-14 win in an epic clash. The rest of the season? Yes, that turned out quite nicely.

Mexico v Mali (2015)

You read that correctly. This was the first of seven games the rechristened (due to Fifa’s commercial rules) Otago Stadium hosted during the Fifa Under-20 World Cup, the biggest football tournament yet hosted by New Zealand. The game wasn’t amazing, but the occasion was significant.

Highlanders v Crusaders (2016)

It was the defending champions against the evil empire — and the good guys won. The Highlanders claimed a 34-26 victory on the back of a great performance from Matt Faddes.

Otago v North Harbour (2016)

The national championship is a bit of a shambles now but it can still throw up the odd classic. This was the championship (second-tier) final, North Harbour winning 17-14 with a last-second drop goal.

All Blacks v Australia (2017)

The All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup with a thrilling 35-29 win, after trailing 17-0 early doors. It was a classic, end-to-end contest only decided by a last-minute try. Probably the best test to be played at the stadium in its 10 years.

Highlanders v Lions (2017)

The scrum. The penalty. The kick. And Marty Banks earns the key to the Highlanders kingdom. (It was 23-22, by the way.)

Southern United v Auckland (2017)

Shock crossed with joy crossed with relief. The Southern women had not won a game in four years — and were on a run of one win in a decade — but shocked the national league with a 3-2 win in the 2017-18 season opener. Renee Bacon scored the winning goal in the 84th minute.

Otago v Hawke’s Bay (2018)

Josh Ioane slotted a penalty after the hooter to give Otago a 20-19 win in the championship semifinal.

Otago Spirit v Hawke’s Bay (2019)

It was third time lucky for the Spirit when it beat the Magpies 24-20 in the Farah Palmer Cup championship final. Young first five Rosie Kelly landed a couple of clutch kicks as the Otago women erased the memory of two previous losses in the final.

Highlanders v Hurricanes (2020)

Held behind closed doors as the Covid-19 pandemic raged. In Aaron Smith’s 150th game, the Highlanders turned on the style to win 38-21.

Individual highlights 

Paul Ifill (Phoenix v Roar, 2011)

The Phoenix talisman scored a record 22nd goal in a 2-0 win over the defending champion.

Chris Ashton and Mark Cueto (England v Romania, 2011)

The wingers each scored a hat trick in the RWC game against outmatched Romania.

Fumiaki Tanaka (Otago v Tasman, 2012)

The popular Japanese halfback was at his energetic best in this 39-13 win.

Dan Carter (Crusaders v Highlanders, 2013)

The All Blacks great had just returned from injury and, as he so often did, caused nightmares for the Highlanders.

Ben Smith (All Blacks v England, 2014)

Just name a stand after the guy. Tore the English to shreds from his preferred fullback position.

Aaron Smith (Highlanders v Chiefs, 2015)

Just name a stand after the guy. The halfback immortal was at his imperious best in this Super Rugby quarterfinal.

Israel Dagg (Hawke’s Bay v Otago, 2015)

Dagg enjoying playing in Dunedin as a Highlander and enjoyed it even more when he returned for the Magpies, scoring a hat trick this day.

Jayden Spence (Kaikorai v Dunedin, 2016)

Had a hand in all three tries, palming off defender after defender, as the Demons beat Dunedin 29-22 in the premier club rugby final.

Matt Faddes (Highlanders v Crusaders, 2016)

Homegrown boy had one of his great days on his home turf.

Mackenzie Haugh (Southern v Harbour, 2017)

Super sub scored three tries to help the Magpies beat the Hawks 24-15 in the club final.

Marty Banks (Highlanders v Lions, 2017)

Back for the Highlanders at the age of 47 (jokes!) next year. Can he hold on to have another crack at the Lions in 2029?

Jona Nareki (Otago v Manawatu, 2017)

Four years before his sensational hat trick for the Highlanders in Hamilton, Nareki crossed three times in this entertaining 40-30 win.

Kilisitina Moata’ane (Otago Spirit v North Harbour, 2019)

Scored four tries in a 92-0 demolition. Record score at the ground?

Finn Hurley (Otago Boys’ v Southland Boys’, 2021)

One of the stories of the year. The bloodied and bandaged first five kicked two drop goals to help his First XV win the Otago premier schools final.

Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes v Highlanders, 2021)

Helped himself to 30 points in a Super Rugby game, setting the tone for a marvellous year.

Worst games

Highlanders v Brumbies (2013)

A good old-fashioned stinker by a team that promised much and delivered little.

Otago v Hawke’s Bay (2013)

Not the shield game, the other one. The championship semifinal was in the shadow of the Bledisloe Cup test played at the stadium the previous night. A messy game was dominated by the referee.

Bulldogs v Warriors (2017)

To quote former ODT sports editor Steve Hepburn: ‘‘An absolutely shocking game.’’

Otago v Auckland (2020)

Auckland smashed Otago 38-6 in a grim start to the campaign.

Otago v Hawke’s Bay (2020)

And it didn’t get much better as Otago coughed up the Ranfurly Shield with an awful 28-9 effort.

The things they said

‘‘It is an outstanding facility and an incredible experience for our guys. I can’t speak highly enough about it. I’d like to take it home.’’

 — West Coast rugby coach Anthony Lawry

‘‘The atmosphere you can create within the dome is electric. It’s a great surface. Everyone has done a top job. If there is an opportunity to come back, I’m sure this venue would be looked at favourably.’’

 — Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert

‘‘It’s not good enough, is it? It was very amateurish in what is a professional game.’’

 — Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder after the clock-up in 2012

‘‘I think there is excitement among the group about getting a good turnout and putting on a good game of football. It is a great atmosphere in there and hopefully the people of Dunedin come out and support it.’’

 — Kiwis captain Simon Mannering

‘‘The girls are buzzing. Look at them — you’ve just got to look at the smiles on their faces, the happiness.’’

 — Southern United coach Terry Parle after his team celebrated one of the most emotional wins at the stadium

‘‘It was a good night for us, really good. Great crowd. Dunedin have been fantastic hosts. The town should be really proud of the stadium. People have been so friendly.’’

 — Newcastle football manager Alan Pardew


Wow, yes that's some list. I've been lucky enough to see 5 events mentioned here in only about 7 or 8 trips to FB. The 2019 Shield win over a much bigger and more highly rated Waikato wasn't bad either.


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