Rugby | SPORTS

Macuata Upset Defending Champs At Home

The Macuata forwards held their fort as they upset de­fending Vodafone Vanua Championship champions Na­nukuloa 24-20 at Subral Park, La­basa, on Saturday.
16 May 2022 20:53
Macuata Upset Defending Champs At Home
Macuata rugby players, officials and fans after their 24-20 win over Nanukuloa in the Vodafone Vanua Championship at Subrail Park, Labasa, on May 14, 2022. Photo: Sampras Anand.

The Macuata forwards held their fort as they upset de­fending Vodafone Vanua Championship champions Na­nukuloa 24-20 at Subrail Park, La­basa, on Saturday.

This was a comeback for Macu­ata after they were edged by neigh­bours Bua 14-13 during the opening round of competition.

What happened: The game kicked off with Macuata, gaining early possession from their hard run­ning forwards who created extra metres in their pursuit to gain ter­ritory upfield.

The early onslaught caught Na­nukuloa offside but Macuata’s first five Niko Yalosolo missed the pen­alty.

Full-back Viliame Maiono took over in the goal kicking depart­ment; he sliced the uprights with their second penalty as they led 3-0.

Pressure saw Nanukuloa making handling errors as they were kept inside their own half.

Maiono after some brilliant play connected with the backline to score.

The conversion was unsuccessful, minutes later he also kicked a pen­alty to extend their lead 11-0.

Macuata had things under con­trol when their No.8 Viliame Lom­aloma crashed over for a try after a wonderful set piece move.

Nukuloa retaliated with a try from their tighthead prop Osea Sadrau, which was converted,

Halftime: Macuata 16-7 Nukuloa.

Macuata continued with the same focus and grabbed their second try through winger, Eremasi Lolorua, with the conversion going wide.

Nanukuloa finally took hold of possession and scored a 54th min­ute penalty by first five eight, Josua Koro to narrow the deficit 21-10. Moments later, they scored their second try through centre, Manoa Tuiwainisici.

Nanukuloa piled on the pressure and scored another try in the final 10 minutes as they came closer 21-20. but, their hopes were crushed after Macuata’s Yalosolo kicked over a penalty to seal the win.

Comments: Macuata coach, Meli Tabanicala, said the much-needed win has boosted their chances of doing well in the Vanua champion­ship after a heartbreaking loss to Bua.

Tabanicala said it was all about quick recovery and improving their possession-based attacks against Nanukuloa.

“We don’t want to lose concentra­tion early into the season, this win is a good platform to build from,” he said.

Tabanicala said they were treat­ing every game as a learning pro­cess where their players had op­portunities to improve on their individual ball skills, team strate­gies and important facets of the game.

“It was a step-up from the last game against Bua as we managed to make use of our opportunities and scored 24 points,” he said.

He added they would concentrate on improving their discipline af­ter copping red and yellow cards against Nanukuloa.

Nanukuloa coach, Reverend Jioji Rinakama, was satisfied with his players performance despite the narrow loss.

The former Flying Fijians for­wards coach said they conceded too many silly penalties that gave possession back to the hosts.

He said they did not have major­ity of possession, especially in the first half where Macuata piled on the points.

Decision making in the match was missing and he hope to address this before their next game against Bua.

“Our scrum was collapsing and we need to be more disciplined and patient to avoid giving penalties away,” he said.

Defensively, the Ra based- side had a number of mistackles with the majority made in the first half.

The veteran coach said unneces­sary kicking off ball possession was a contributing factor to their loss.


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