DEFENDING Fiji Bitter Escott Shield champions Navy held off a spirited effort from Raiwaqa to win their semi-final clash 10-3 at Albert Park in Suva yesterday.
The Fres'et Navy side had to bring out all their firepower from its Walu Bay armoury to help them stop the all out assault from the young DHL Raiwaqa brigade during their 80-minute battle.
Raiwaqa had themselves to blame for the loss as they had a number of scoring chances in the second-half which they did not turn into points.
On four or five occasions in the later part of the second-half Raiwaqa were five metres from the Navy tryline when they turned the ball over.
Raiwaqa also had the opportunity to kick for goal when they were awarded a couple of penalties inside the Navy 22 but they opted for the lineout which Navy later turned over.
The narrow score-line showed how close the game was as the two teams battled for a spot in the grand final next week.
Navy named a very powerful line-up for the feature match of day and they included seasoned Suva players like Vesi Rarawa, Manasa Saulo, Ilitomasi Nawalu, Aporosa Kenatale, Kaminieli Neiqisa, Jo Lotawa, Epeli Ruivadra, Maikeli Mocetadra and former 7s wing Sikeli Vuruna.
Even former national sevens forward Waqabaca Kotobalavu was on the bench and was only given a run in the second-half.
Navy manager Jo Tunidau said they were not surprised of the win because they had gone into the match focused on retaining the title and keeping it until 2012.
Tunidau said they knew Raiwaqa would be very strong and that was why they had lifted their game to another level from last week.
"We know we have to lift our game because we had worked hard on trying to improve from our weak areas from our loss to them earlier in the season," Tunidau said.
"I want to thank our boys for working together in defence because we failed on that in our earlier game.
"But I want to thank Raiwaqa for giving us a good game as they exposed a lot of areas that we need to improve on before we play the final," Tunidau said.
"We gave away a lot of penalties and we also had a few yellow cards which we can't do in the final against Army."
In the first semi-final the Napolioni Naulia-captained Army side defeated Police Blue 16-8 to seal their spot in the Escott Shield final.