Navy retains the shield
Fiji Bitter Escott Shield defending champions, Fresh’et Navy retained the oldest rugby shield in Fiji to a strong-willed Army Green in a thriller at Albert Park yesterday.
Army went down to a star-studded Navy side 14 – 21 which was boosted with the services of seasonal campaigners Kaminieli Neiqisa, Waqabaca Kotobalavu, Maikeli Mocetadra, Benedito Koroi and Isikeli Vuruna.
A lot of wrong decisions by Army and a number of deliberate foul play and basic errors cost them the game as they gave away four penalties in the second spell.
Army started well with a try from their captain Napolioni Naulia to lead 5-0 in the 11th minute.
The men in green were penalised for an infringement in the 19th minute and Navy pivot Neiqisa slotted the penalty to bridge the gap 5-3.
Army fullback Joseva Basudra increased their lead in the 29th and 32nd minute with two penalties to push the lead 11-3.
But a yellow card given to Army lock forward Ofa Unaloto in the 37th minute enabled Navy to pick up their and scored a try through tight-head prop, Manasa Saulo.
Both teams played with passion and displayed outstanding rugby with only a penalty separating them at halftime, Halftime: Navy 8 Army 11.
Navy restarted the second half with Neiqisa kicking a penalty in the 43rd minute to level the scores 11-11.
A penalty was given to Army in the 46th minute after Navy fullback Isikeli Vuruna was penalized for not releasing the ball.
In the 52nd minute Basudra kicked their way into the lead with a third penalty, 14-11.
But a wasteful kick from the Army in the 20th minute from their scoreline saw an ever ready Neiqisa booted a field goal leveling the score 14-14.
But it was all down to the man of the moment, hooker Josaia Cikaitoga who intercepted the ball and ran 30 metres to score the winning try under the post.
Meanwhile, Navy chief petty officer, Solomoni Spooner they had expected more from the Army as they were their traditional rival.
Spooner said their forwards delivered well and dominated the entire game.
Spooner wishes to thank Inoke Male, technical advisor and Malakai Finau for the help and support rendered to the team.