PLAYING to the final whistle propelled Northland to its third victory in the Digicel Cup rugby competition ù 25-10 over Nadi in heavyfoot conditions at Gatward Park in Korovou yesterday.
Northland scored two tries in the final 10 minutes to seal the win as they maintain their lead alongside neighbours Tailevu on the points table. Northland, Tailevu and Lautoka are now joint leaders with 12 points apiece.
The home team produced a sterling performance in the second spell after trailing 5-10 at the break to extend their winning streak on their home ground this season.
Outside centre Petero Nodrakoro scored Northland's only try in the first half while Nadi's towering lock forward Viliame Ratute crossed the whitewash for the visitors. Flyhalf Kelemedi Vosuga nailed a penalty for the Jet-setters for a 10-5 lead.
Indiscipline proved costly for Nadi when they were penalised inside their territory which allowed Northland fullback Josefata Bola to nail a three-pointer to narrow the deficit.
Former Navosa rep Orisi Qilia scored under the cross bar to start Northland's onslaught for a comeback after another penalty from Bola.
Qilia collected a loose ball inside Nadi's territory, which was carelessly given away by Nadi winger Viliame Raikivi. Inspirational skipper Akariva Tiniciwaciwa scored the final try which was converted by Bola. Tiniciwaciwa's high work rate on the field was rewarded with the fine touch from Eroni Waqanitai's box kick.
Northland coach Ilivasi Tabua said his players stuck to the game plan despite the weather condition.
"We played to the final minute and it was in the last 10 minutes that turned the game for us. I told the players to empty the tank and give everything while on the field and I am happy that they followed the advice well," the former Wallaby said.
"It was a good game from the players, they concentrated on the game despite the pressure and the wet ground condition." Nadi coach and former national sevens mentor Iliesa Tanivula said they lost to a better team.
"We lacked match fitness and that cost us dearly in the final 10 minutes. We started well but we did not have the match fitness to last till the final whistle. We controlled about 60 percent of the game and we gave it away in the end," he said.
"But it was a grand performance from the players, we are still recovering from the flood and we hope to bounce back in our next game."