Naitasiri beats Nadroga in Digicel Cup opener
04 March, 2011
Friday, 4 March 2011
|Digicel Fiji CEO David Butler (left) greets Nadroga players with the help of Nadroga skipper Jonetani Ratu (right). |
Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori
Naitasiri 23 (10)
Penalty Try, John Stewart Con:
Kolinio Vunaki (2) Pen:
Kolinio Vunaki (3) Nadroga 15 (7) Tries:
Seru Cakobau, Jone Vinaiwere Con:
Jonetani Ratu Pen:
Jonetani Ratu Referee: James Bolabiu
Kick Off: 6:03 PM
Conditions: Cool and dry
Naitasiri began with real intent at Ratu Cakobau Park as captain Senivalati Vunibola and number eight Nikolai Baleitamavua muscled their way through a brittle Nadroga defense in the opening stages. Naitasiri spent the initial stages of the match camped in the Nadroga half. But despite their early dominance it was Nadroga who earned the first opportunity at points as James Bolabiu punished the Highlanders for undisciplined play.
However the two early attempts at goal by Nadroga fullback Jonetani Nasia from 40 metres out went astray. In the end it was Naitasiri flyhalf Kolinio Vunaki who opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a penalty from in front of the uprights as Naitasiri finally found some just reward for their dominance.
Despite the lead Naitasiri’s indiscipline continued as a dangerous tackle by Nemani Vecenayawa on impressive Nadroga prop Jone Vinaiwere earned him the yellow card. Vinaiwere had done well to recover a through ball, after finding himself alone at the back and the last line of defense ahead of swarming Naitasiri attackers. However Vecenayawa’s no arms tackle flattened the prop and left Bolabiu no hesitation but to show the yellow card.
Vecenayawa’s departure only seemed to spur on the Naitasiri players as, backed by a parochial home crowd, they tackled and defended with extreme vigour as the Stallions struggled to get out of their own 22 despite the man advantage.
Winning a series of penalties five metres from the Nadroga goal line Vunibola opted for the scrum each time. In the end the ploy worked as the Nadroga scrum wilted and then infringed and Bolabiu awarded the penalty try in the 33rd minute.
Vunaki made no mistake from in front as Naitasiri stretched their lead to 10-nil.
Just as it looked as if Naitasiri would take full control of proceedings Nadroga hit back three minutes later with a brave try of their own. Disdaining a penalty by the Naitasiri uprights, Nadroga opted for the quick tap and it was hooker Seru Cakobau who caught the Naitasiri defense napping and darted over to score.
Captain Jonetani Ratu made no mistake with the simple conversion to leave Nadroga trailing by just three points with the score 10-7.
Vunaki had a late attempt to stretch Naitasiri’s lead just before the break but his 48 metre penalty attempt fell agonizingly short.
In the second half centre John Stewart gave Naitasiri the best possible start with an intercept and dash for the line, going over in the tackle of Nadroga winger Saivasa Navaka in the 43rd minute.
Vunaki’s conversion stretched Naitasiri’s lead to 17-7.
But three minutes later Naitasiri’s indiscpline cost them again as hooker Jerry Tokamalua was sinbinned for foul play. Ratu made no mistake from the ensuing penalty kick to cut Naitasiri’s lead to just seven.
Vunaki restored Naitasiri’s 10 point advantage with a penalty of his own in the 49th minute.
Looking a far better outfit in the second half, Nadroga once again caught the Naitasiri defense out with a quick tap which eventually saw Vinaiwere score a deserved try. Ratu failed with the conversion leaving Nadroga needing just a converted try to snatch an unlikely victory.
In the end it was not to be for the visitors as a third Vunaki penalty gave Naitasiri a 23-15 lead. It was a lead they held on to until the end of the game and extends their unbeaten run in the Digicel Cup competition to 14 games. NAITASIRI
1. Samu Kata, 2. Jerry Tokamalua, 3. Joeli Veitayaki, 4. Senivalati Vunibola (c), 5. Apisai Rinamalo, 6. Inoke Tuisese, 7. Jese Cirikisuva, 8. Nikolai Balaitamavua, 9. Nemani Vecenayawa, 10. Kolinio Vunaki, 11. Sanaila Vitau, 12. Iliesa Matanisiga, 13. John Stewart, 14. Sitiveni Vatuvoka, 15. Temesia Roko Reserves:
16. Samu Sauturaga, 17. Sireli Temo, 18. Saviriano Kalounivale, 19. Sekove Roko, 20. Noa Sisiwa, 21. Waisale Levula, 22. Eremodo Elesio NADROGA
1. Seremaia Naureure, 2. Ratu Seru Cakobau, 3. Jone Vinaiwere, 4. Apisai Domolailai, 5. Inia Tukere, 6. Eroni Tasere, 7. Jone Qorovakatini, 8. Manoa Tamaya, 9. Samu Laqai, 10. Jonetani Ratu (c), 11. Sakiusa Navaka, 12. Epeli Qativi, 13. Sakiusa Gavidi, 14. Nemani Naitoni, 15. Jonetani Nasia Reserves:
16. Pauliasi Kuruiciri, 17. Eneri Lotawa, 18. Iosefo Rasese, 19. Isei Vuicuvu, 20. Seveci Taka, 21. Kalivati Tauvoli, 22. Aporosa Tabulawaki Man of the Match:
SAKIUSA NAVAKA – His team may not have won but Navaka looked dangerous every time he had ball in hand. Looks to be developing into a fine winger with great potential for further honours.