BAU man Hendry Seniloli put on a man-of-the match performance for his Tebara Bus Tailevu side when they handed Uprising Northland their first loss in the Digicel Cup competition 29-6 at Gatward Park yesterday.
Playing against some of his former team mates, Seniloli marshalled his forwards well in their attacks and delivered quality and quick ball from the rucks for his backline as they put on a clinical performance to shut out Northland.
Even when Northland threatened, Seniloli made the rallying call, at two crucial moments in the match, where he made a try-saving tackle and later when he cleared the ball from inside his 22, which resulted in a try to Tailevu.
Seniloli chased down his opposite number Semi Votea after the Northland man had pounced on a dropped ball with only the tryline beckoning.
Some plays later with Northland smelling blood near the Tailevu tryline, a clearing kick by Seniloli was kept in play by his chasers where fullback Jaoji Dakuvula exchanged passes with Manueli Gade and Nemani Turagaulu before the ball found Dakuvula again who raced away to score.
The toast for the table leaders was the bonus point victory and keeping Northland try-less throughout the match.
But Tailevu's clinical performance was marred by indiscipline with three yellow cards flashed during the game against their players.
Coach Lance Whippy admits there is still a lot to improve on and his team made too many mistakes during the game.
"Yes but we still need to improve and this is just another building block to what we're trying to achieve and yes, there was a lot of mistakes and we need to improve on it," Whippy said.
Northland coach Ilivasi Tabua said his boys were physically and mentally intimidated by the Tailevu players and their response resulted in them not playing the game they wanted but instead played right into the hands of their impressive opponents. "At halftime we wanted to play an expansive game where we had hoped for them to come to us instead of using playing to their game but the boys were taken by the intimidation and words from the other side," Tabua says.
The game started well for Northland though as Tailevu gave away numerous penalties and two were converted by fullback Josefata Bola.
But Tailevu responded with a try to centre Nemani Turagaulu after an inter pass between the very mobile loose forwards and backline with captain Esiria Vueti's sleight of hand putting Turagaulu into a gap and over the tryline.
Sunia Bainivalu's conversation meant the teams went to the break with Tailevu leading 10-6.
Northland came back strongly in the second half, pressuring Tailevu inside their own half and spent the first ten minutes camped deep inside Tailevu's 22.
But Seniloli came to the fore with his try-saving tackle and clearance which was turned into a try for fullback Dakuvula and Tailevu led 15-6.
Inside centre Manueli Gade who had a relative quiet game soon extended Tailevu's lead to 22-6 with a runaway intercept try.
Then replacement winger Aisea Druna ran past his opposite Sairusi Naituku for the bonus point try bringing the final score to 29-6.