The Crusaders won their first Colonial Cup crown on Saturday at Ratu Cakobau Park with a late converted try from inside centre Vuniani Bari to defeat the Knights 16-15.
Bari sliced through the Knights defence in the 69th minute to touch down close to the posts, and Dan Rawaqa, who played an outstanding game at fullback, converted the try to win the game. He scored 11 of his side's 16 points including an early dropped goal from 40 metres.
First-time finalists the Knights put on a valiant display and looked likely winners when they took a 15-9 lead in the second half courtesy of a penalty try. They had other good opportunities but commited errors at key moments.
They had the more lively start with a superb try to Suala Radidi in the eighth minute, but the Crusaders edged their way back into the game through the boots of Rawaqa to take a 9-8 half-time lead. And laden with experience in the backs and forwards, the westerners showed in the end they had just enough to take the title. Quotes Eddie Waqa
"In the last 15 minutes, the Crusaders managed to bring the game into our half and capitalize on our mistakes. There was a lot of fundamental mistakes, basic ones like handling errors."
"The boys were playing under pressure inside our half but the game plan was to do the opposite, which was to play in their half and apply pressure on (fly-half) Waisea Luveniyali and their forwards."
"We gave away a lot of penalties because of our indiscipline and infringements in the rucking area. However, we have set a platform this year and next year should be better." Ili Tanivula
"We had a few yellow cards but the boys did what they had to do and today is a special day for them. Our Communication worked well and is a major contributing factor to the victory."
"In the first half, we were unable to do much with our possession but the boys came through okay. After the break, we pulled the game in before using the backline to finish things off.
"We were confident that we would win today. It was a good team effort. Rugby is a very intense game and when you're under pressure, things can get out of hand but you have to remain cool." Ili Tabua
(Fiji national coach)
"The game kept getting better as it went on. It could have gone either way. If the Knights had taken their opportunities and run the ball more then the outcome could have been different. The Crusaders played tactically smart, kicked it when they needed to, put the points on the board, to and that’s why they won."
"The competition keeps improving, it’s great to see the Knights reaching the final. I think what really counted is that the Crusaders had been here before and for the Knights it was their first final and the feeling is different. You get frustrated and you have senior players flashed with cards like Seruvakula."
"Still, we had too much aimless kicking today so hopefully that will improve in the future." Saturday 5 April 2008
Knights 15 Crusaders 16
Colonial Cup Final
Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori
: 6,000 KNIGHTS
: 15 Iliesa Keresoni (Nemia Kenatale 78), 14 Nacanieli Nabobo, 13 Saula Radidi, 12 Sisa Waqa, 11 Timoci Naqusa (Malakai Bakaniceva 68), 10 James Vuli (Ravai Fatiaki 70), 9 Kelemedi Bola, 8 Senirusi Seruvakula (capt) (yellow card 59-68, Apenisa Ratugoleavanua 75), 7 Sairusi Kadi (Epeli Drakanimate 62), 6 Wate Vocevoce, 5 Peni Tora, 4 Keverieli Bulivorovoro, 3 Sisari Tagivakatini, 2 Vereniki Sauturaga, 1 Sakeo Latianara Not used:
Mosese Sela, Jim Patrick Coach:
Eddie Waqa Tries:
Radidi, Penalty try; Conversion:
Vuli; Penalty goal
: Vuli. CRUSADERS:
15 Taniela Rawaqa (yellow card 53-62), 14 Vima Tuidraki (yellow card 59-68, Asaeli Driu74), 13 Tevita Latianara (Sunia Vata 74), 12 Vuniani Bari, 11 Savenaca Waqa, 10 Waisea Luveniyali, 9 Aporosa Vata (capt), 8 Aca Bibi, 7 Aminiasi Nava, 6 Seta Ratatagia, 5 Mo Natuilagilagi (Jona Tavai 74), 4 Ifereimi Naruma, 3 Viliame Seuseu, 2 Aseri Buli (Joeli Lotawa 70), 1 Sikeli Gavidi (Paulo Cata 72) Coach:
Iliesa Tanivula Not used
: Kelepi Ketedromo, Semi Keli Try:
Rawaqa; Penalty goal:
Rawaqa (2); Dropped goal:
Rawaqa Colonial Man of the Match
: Waisea Luveniyali (Crusaders) Scoring sequence
(Knights' score shown first
8min – TRY KNIGHTS, Radidi; conversion Vuli (missed) – 5-0
15min – DROPPED GOAL CRUSADERS, Rawaqa – 5-3
21min – PEN GOAL CRUSADERS, Luveniyali (missed) – 5-3
24min – PEN GOAL CRUSADERS, Rawaqa – 5-6
38min – PEN GOAL KNIGHTS, Naqusa (missed) – 5-6
40min – PEN GOAL CRUSADERS, Rawaqa – 5-9
41min – PEN GOAL KNIGHTS, Vuli – 8-9 Half-time
48min – PEN GOAL KINGHTS, Vuli (missed) – 8-9
51min – PENALTY TRY KNIGHTS; Conversion Vuli – 15-9
53min – Yellow Card CRUSADERS, Rawaqa
59min – Yellow Card KNIGHTS, Seruvakula
59min – Yellow Card CRUSADERS, Tuidraki
69min – TRY CRUSADERS, Bari; Conversion Rawaqa – 15-16
72min – PEN GOAL KNIGHTS, Fatiaki (missed) – 15-16 Full-time