Rugby

Vunivalu’s Try Was The Turning Point: Cleary

Left in a vulnerable position marking two Penrith Panthers attackers, when halfback Nathan Clearly spotted an overlap on his left-edge and looked to exploit the extra man with a long cut-out pass.
27 Oct 2020 14:19
Vunivalu’s Try Was The Turning Point: Cleary
An emotional Vunivalu with his team-mates at the end of the grand final. Photos: Melbourne Storm

Fijian flyer Suliasi Vunivalu saved the best for the National Rugby League (NRL) Grand Final.

On Sunday night, the Navave, Bua, native showed the class that made the Storm top executives indicate their willingness to re-sign him if he reconsiders his decision to switch to rugby union.

Left in a vulnerable position marking two Penrith Panthers attackers, when halfback Nathan Clearly spotted an overlap on his left-edge and looked to exploit the extra man with a long cut-out pass.

But it went badly wrong when Vunivalu made an audacious intercept attempt, rushing out of the line before leaping to pluck the ball out of the sky as it was about to land on the chest of an opponent.

After almost losing his feet, Vunivalu gathered himself and raced away for a 90-metre try.

This inspired Storm to romp to a 26-20 win after leading 22-0 at halftime.

A shattered Cleary told The Age, that he would forever be haunted by that one particular cutout pass.

“It’s hard, you keep thinking back to the game, things like you’d have back,” Cleary said.

“The intercept was the turning point. I felt I let the boys down a fair bit.

“I saw (Storm centre) Brenko Lee shoot out of the line– that’s why I threw it, I just didn’t execute it well enough.

“I threw it too high and (Suliasi) Vunivalu did pretty well.”

That was Vunivalu’s last NRL match and try as he looks forward to joining the Queensland Reds next season.

Vunivalu’s Fijian Bati team-mates Viliame Kikau and Apisai Koroisau toiled hard for Panthers but handling mistakes and taking wrong options marred their performance.

Edited by Maika Bolatiki

Feedbackleonec@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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