THE Makoi Bulldogs are the new champions of the Vodafone Cup.
Yesterday, the Fair Trade-sponsored side beat Sabeto Roosters 12-10 in a thrilling final at Buckhurst Park in Suva.
The Roosters came into the match looking for the second Vodafone Cup but were denied by a very determined Bulldogs side.
The celebration will be four times sweeter for the new champions as this is the first time ever they have won the title, it is their 10th year anniversary and it was their sponsor, Pravin Chand's and player Joshua Niumataiwalu's birthday yesterday.
Elated coach Maika Vunivere could not contain his tears as he shouted for joy after the final whistle.
When questioned by Times Sport, he said he could not find the word to describe the feeling he felt at the moment.
He just looked at his team and said "thank you" to all his players when they came to hug him.
"The hard work that we have put in this team for the past few years and this season has finally paid off," the former Fiji Bati said.
"I could not sit still during the final and now I can't stop shaking with joy," he said.
Five eight Ilikena Niumatailwalu was the hero for the side as his accuracy with the boot proved to be the game breaker yesterday.
The younger brother of birthday boy Josua, kicked the first two penalties for a 4-0 lead midway in the first half.
Suliasi Talakai scored for the Bulldogs to take their tally to 8-0 and a late penalty to Kolinio Radovi allowed the Roosters to go into the breather with two points to their name.
Ilikena kicked a penalty early in the second half to extend their lead but the celebration was cut short as Jone Marawa scored to mark the comeback for the Roosters.
Midway in the second half Ilikena kicked the last points for the Bulldogs as they led 12-6 till the last seven minutes of the game.
A consolation try to Roger Qoro was not enough as the Sigatoka Electric side missed out 12-10.
Despite the loss, Roosters coach Vela Tawake said he was happy with the performance of his boys.
He said lapse in concentration let his team down in the first half of the match.
"We came back in the second half but it was not enough," Tawake said.
"We conceded some penalties and they converted it into points and at times my boys lost patience but they did play a very good game today (yesterday)."