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A Close Call

A Close Call
Northland fullback Mesake Tuinamena run in their final try against BLK Naitasiri during their Skipper Cup competition match at Gatward Park, Korovou yesterday. Photo: Ronald Kumar
July 05
11:37 2015

Red card:

Avisai Rinamalo (Naitasiri) Yellow card:Naitasiri – Sireli Kaloucava, Josaia Wini. Northland – Samu Vosota, Sakeasi Kaitoga.

What happened:

BLK Naitasiri tallied another victory to their name after edging Northland in what was one of the most closely-contested games of the season to date.

The Highlanders gained possession at kick-off and drew first blood with a try to fullback Viliame Masiwawa in the 10th minute. First five-eighth Etonia Rokotuisawa unfortunately missed the conversion.

The hosts supported by a jam-packed crowd and immediately responded with a try to Maikeli Vasole in the 15th minute. Ilimeleki Leiloma’s conversion was right on the mark to put give them 7-5.

Naitasiri skipper Nasoni Roko led by example as he jetted past the Northland defence to score three minutes later which converted by Rokotuisawa.

Tensions rose in the heat of the game as an altercation broke out, leading to the referee issuing a red card to prop Avisai Rinamalo and a yellow card to number eight Sireli Kaloucava.

Northland were summarily awarded a penalty which Leiloma successfully kicked through to take the scores up to 10-12 at the halftime.

Halftime: BLK Naitasiri 12-10 Northland

Starting the second-half with only 13 men, the Highlanders reshuffled their numbers to earn a penalty which Rokotuisawa gladly delivered, moving the scores up 15-10.

Northland were not to be outdone just yet and after scuffles that saw Samu Vosota carded in the 56 minute and Sakeasi Kaitoga three minutes later,. They wrestled possession from the Highlanders, Jovesa Naleba ploughing through the defence and delivering the equalising try which Leiloma easily converted to put them at 17-15.

The visitors had the last say though as they maintained possession and wore Northland down, forcing them to error and award the highlanders the winning penalty, easily delivered by Rokotuisawa to end the game 18-17.

Northland walked away with a bonus loss consolation having lost by less than seven points.

Big play:

Both sides played a physical game that was thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable to watchComments:


BLK Naitasiri coach Jioji Rinakama: “I think it’s indiscipline that was the reason we didn’t function well. We didn’t do all that we wanted to do and that’s due to that lack of discipline.

“The supporters were very near and very vocal and that probably had to do with the tension but at the end of the game, I want to salute the boys for a good game. Overall, we had a good game.”

Northland manager Maciu Koroi: “It was a good game but we lost out by a point in the end. As I said last time, we would give Naitasiri a good run and we did just that.

“As far as the yellow cards are concerned, I’ve also said previously the tempo of the competition is moving up so games are going to be hard and these kinds of things are the result of that .”

Match commissioner Vili Kanatabua: “It’s all down to the intensity of the game and no one is to blame. Naitasiri responded badly when they retaliated. The reason he was issued the red card was because he was the third man.

“I told them that if you retaliate, you will be penalised, not the instigator. .

“But rugby is a physical game at the end of the day and this happens but the fact is no one here is to blame. It’s just the intensity of the game.”




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