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Tuikabe Talk Fires Up Suva

Tuikabe Talk Fires Up Suva
Persistent Suva defense held back Namosi’s Aminiasi Natoga meter shot of try-line during Skipper Cup semi final match at ANZ Stadium on July 7, 2018. Suva won 26-20 to play Nadroga in Final. Photo: Ronald Kumar.
July 08
12:33 2018

Sheer determination and guts were the hallmark of Suva’s play as they fought back to beat Namosi 26-20 in the Skipper Cup Premiership semifinal at the ANZ Stadium yesterday.

Trailing 10-12 at halftime Suva coach Jope Tuikabe reminded his young players in the dressing room to stick to their plan and not to follow the opposition’s game pattern.

“That changed our performance in the second half,” Suva rugby manager Ulaiasi Verevou told SUNsports.

Suva will now face Nadroga in the Skipper Cup Premiership grand final next Saturday.

What happened: Suva took the game to Namosi and pinned them close to their tryline. The visitors through halfback Aminiasi Natoga opted to play the ball close to their bigger forwards as they worked their way out of danger.

However, against the run of play in the 8th minute saw a promising Suva backline move came to not when fullback Enele Malele spilled the ball forward.

Failure to communicate among the Suva backs saw them took wrong options to the advantage of the Namosi forwards.

First five eight Jioji Ragamate often kicked the ball behind the Suva backs before pressuring them into mistakes. This did not deter the Suva side as captain Peni Raidre led the charge as they clawed their way close to the Namosi tryline.

In the 24th minute, a long cut out pass from Suva first five eight John Manu created space for winger Levani Kurimudu to score in the corner with Malele adding the extras from the conversion.

This woke Namosi up as their big men like prop Alifereti Rabukawaqa, Vaione Tegu and Mosese Voka drove into the Suva territory. In the 34th minute, a forward drive saw Namosi No.8 Sakiusa Gavidi crashed over to score their first try with Raqamate’s conversion making it 7-7.

Their joy was short-lived in the 38th minute when Malele was on target with a penalty to make 10-7. But it was Namosi who had the final say in the 9th minute of extra time when prop Atunaisa Maiono was driven over the tryline for the second try as they regained the lead 12-10 as Ragamate’s conversion went wide.

Halftime: Suva 10-12 Namosi

Namosi brought in Fiji Airways Flying Fijian first five eight Alivereti Veitokani to replace Ragamate.

In the 43rd minute Suva took the lead 13-12 from a Malele penalty after the Namosi forwards were caught offside.

In the 54th minute, Veitokani missed a penalty after the Suva players were penalised for infringing in the ruck.

Namosi ran in their third try in the 58th minute when flanker Mosese Voka pounced on a loose ball to score after Suva messed up their own lineout. Veitokani failed to convert as they led 17-13.

The visitors were a man down in the 64th minute when Nadruku copped a yellow card and went to the bin.

Taking advantage of the situation the smaller Suva players put on a spirited performance as they ran the ball straight at the opposition.

This rattled the Namosi defence and in the 64th minute Suva halfback Peni Matawalu reached over to score their second try with the conversion going wide as they led 18-17. Not to be outdone Veitokani pushed Namosi back to the front when he converted a penalty in the 69th minute.

Trailing 18-20 the hosts never gave up as their replacement front rows of Semi Raturaga, Seveci Nasilasila and Penijamini Makutu lifted the their scrums as they time and again pushed the Namosi scrum back with ease.

Continuous pressure resulted in cracks in the Namosi defence as Matawalu again dived over to score his second try in the 73rd minute with the conversion missing.

Suva held on to the 23-20 lead and during injury time replacement back Meli Kurisaru slotted in a penalty to extend their lead to 26-20.

Big play: Suva forwards for putting their bodies on the line as they took on the bigger, heavier and experienced Namosi pack.

Star turn: Halfback Matawalu spied the opposition defence and was able to exploit the loopholes that appeared. This saw him score twice- 64th and 73rd minute- to seal the win.

Comments: Suva Rugby manager Verevou said: “We did not have a lot of Fiji Warriors or Fiji Drua players in our team but our young boys played well.”

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj

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