What a tremendous thing to see the Super 15 trophy lifted in the south, and by a team other than the Crusaders.
Despite lacking both home ground advantage and the support of the greater New Zealand sporting public, the Otago Highlanders did it anyway, coming away with a hard fought 21 to 14 win over rivals, Wellington Hurricanes.
That’s the thing though and yes, I do realise how easy it is for me to say now that I backed the Highlanders the whole way, but I actually did. They had come storming through the Super Rugby rankings, in recent weeks defeating some massive teams including the NSW Waratahs, and I honestly believed they had the power to upset that other virgin Super Trophy winner…
Adding to the fact that the Hurricanes had beaten the Highlanders on both occasions they had met during the regular season, there was the impending difficulty of playing the final match away from the comfort of home ground support. Admittedly it didn’t look auspicious for the away side and understandably the Highlanders had gone into the match unequivocally donning the underdog tag.
…As previously stated, along with a passionate throng of southern supporters making the voyage north, I had faith in the Highlanders.
In a superb game where the ‘franchise’ tag has taken from Super Rugby teams any real sense of regional pride, given that many of the Crusaders side reside in Auckland and I assume the same is true of the Highlanders, controversial tries notwithstanding because I’m sure at least one errant blade of grass must have brushed the ball’s surface, I was overjoyed to see the Otago Highlanders come away victorious on the day.
The problem was I had so much faith, my bet was for a win of 13+…
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Jamie Joseph
Photography by Wynn Near