Students handed a salutary lesson

Jack McHugh escapes Thomas Johnson and makes his way into our form XV. Photo: Peter McIntosh
University A flanker Jack McHugh gets past Zingari first five-eighth Thomas Johnson during their premier match at Logan Park in May. PHOTO PETER MCINTOSH
If University was too comfortable at the top of the standings it is not now.

Green Island made sure of that. It beat the competition leader 42-10 last weekend.

It was arguably the biggest upset of the season and it was a timely reminder towards the sharp end of the tournament, assistant coach Roy Hawker said.

"We got a lesson from Taieri earlier in the year, as well, so it is nice to be reminded what makes you beatable because that allows you to fix some of your flaws," he said.

No-one said University was perfect but it has been enjoying a charmed run.

It dispatched Dunedin 63-10 the previous week and a comfortable 30-7 win against Harbour earlier this month really marked the team out as the side to beat.

The odd hiccup is expected but Green Island has perhaps exposed how other teams will look to target University.

The home team held on to possession for long periods and bashed the ball up field through an under-rated forward pack.

Defensively, Green Island was up for the challenge and worked hard to prevent the students getting the ball wide and exploiting their pace.

"That was one of the best packs in the comp without a doubt and their backs tackled their hearts out and that was enough to throw us," Hawker said.

"They absolutely earned that win and the scoreline is a reflection of how well they played and probably how poorly we played, as well.

"But we hope it is our last loss of the year if everything goes to plan because we can't afford any more.

"Accuracy was one of our real letdowns on Saturday and that often comes with attitude.

"When you don't get the attitude right, you don't get the accuracy right."

Hawker was confident the team would respond positively. He is expecting a big game from the captain Jack McHugh in a Challenge Shield defence against Taieri at University Oval tomorrow.

McHugh has had an impressive season on the openside, while Hooker Kilipati Lea is another who has stood out.

"They've been outstanding. There is talk Jack is not big enough but he just has so much courage and is just such a talented ball player, as well.

"He does not miss tackles either, and Kilipati Lea has a big future ahead of him.

"He has a real good skill set as a tight forward and great distribution skills and a real good running game."

Loose forward Sam Dickson "bats so much above his weight".

"He is physical in defence and attack. He runs great lines and is a brilliant lineout forward. He is 18 years of age and already he is in the mix.

"He'll be one of the apprentice contracts with the Otago team, yet he is still eligible for the under-19s."

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