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Winning start

Rashneel Kumar
Sunday, May 13, 2012

NEWBIE Timoci Vakadranu scored his debut try in the IRB Sevens World Series as the Digicel Fiji side scraped through with a 19-5 win over Spain in their opening pool match at the London 7s tournament last night.

Vakadranu, who is the son of the late former national sevens and fifteens rep Josefa Rauto, was in the starting line-up and featured prominently in the match.

Naitasiri team coach Reverend Joji Rinakama hailed Vakadranu as a player "who has the heart to play for Fiji".

Rinakama also played alongside Rauto with the Rewa side (which is now Tailevu) from 1984 to 1987.

"Jo (Josefa Rauto) was a lion tamer. He played in the Fiji team that upset the British Lions in Suva in 1977. He played prop and he partnered Nimilote Ratudina and Atonio Racika in the front-row in that game," the Naitasiri coach said.

Rauto first donned the national jersey in 1976 and went on to play 21 Tests for Fiji.

He scored a try and kicked a conversion in that historic win over British Lions at the National Stadium.

Rauto also played sevens and was instrumental in Fiji's win in Hong Kong in 1978.

"I think Timoci is a very talented player. He has been playing well and is a very skilful guy and has the heart to play for the country," he said.

"I think Timoci is living his dream playing for the national side and I believe he can represent Fiji in both, 7s and 15s."

Meanwhile, Fiji made its worst start in the 2011/12 IRB HSBC Sevens World Series in the final tournament of this series last night.

The Alifereti Dere-coached side scored their opening try through Jimilai Naikadawa before Vakadranu crossed the whitewash to give the team 12-0 lead at the break.

Spain bounced back in the second spell and scored a try through Cesar Sempere to cushion the deficit as Fiji struggled with the basics allowing its opponent to dictate the game.

The national side scored their final try through replacement Isikeli Vuruna in the dying stages to seal the disappointing 19-5 win.

The Setefano Cakau-captained side played their remaining pool matches against Zimbabwe and Wales this morning.





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