University gets better of strong side

Otago University flanker and captain Jack McHugh bumps off the attempted tackle of Kansai Universities first five-eighth Takuro Matsunaga at the University of Otago Oval yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Otago University flanker and captain Jack McHugh bumps off the attempted tackle of Kansai Universities first five-eighth Takuro Matsunaga at the University of Otago Oval yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
The cricket season is over at the University of Otago Oval but that did not stop a cricket score being racked up on the ground yesterday.

Nearly 100 points were scored on the Oval yesterday - more than most Otago Volts batsmen managed at visits to the crease on the ground this year - as Otago University came back from a halftime deficit to win 54-39 over Kansai Universities, from Japan.

Otago University scored eight tries to seven, the boot of Mike Williams proving the difference as he missed just the one conversion.

The Kansai team was powerful with the ball in hand and their players were good on their feet. They made some good metres and were good at recycling the ball.

Kansai is a district in the southern-central region of Japan's main island, Honshu. The region includes the prefectures of Mie, Nara, Wakayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Shiga.

University rugby is strong in Japan and has a large following.

The visiting side started well, scoring after eight minutes, and pulled away to lead 24-21 at the break.

University lock Hadleigh Morgan scored a try just before the break to stay handy.

The home side, though, came out sharper in the second half to score three quick tries from forwards Sean Withy, with his second, Sam Dickson and Morgan, again.

That gave the side a handy lead and though Kansai came back, further tries from Graham Urquhart and Taylor Haugh sealed the win for University. University took its chances and spread the ball well.

Best for the home students were forwards Morgan, Dickson and Jack McHugh, while hooker Henry Bell got round the field.

Out the back, halfback Urquhart grew as the game went on and Williams showed some nice touches.

The Kansai team will now switch its focus to the New Zealand Universities side, which it will play at the same venue on Saturday, kicking off at 2.30pm.

Travelling with the team is former Japanese rugby player Yoshihiro Sakata. He is president of the Kansai Rugby Football Union and played for Japan from 1967-73.

He also attended the University of Canterbury in 1969 and played for the university and for Canterbury province and the NZ Barbarians.

Sakata was the first Japanese rugby player to be inducted into the International Rugby Board Hall of Fame, in 2012.

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