RUSIATE Matarerega showed his class scoring a double to help Kappa Fiji beat New Caledonia 3-2 in the Oceania Football Confederation under-20 playoffs at Churchill Park in Lautoka yesterday.
Matarerega, who was promoted to the starting line-up, struck twice in 10 minutes to give Fiji a two-goal cushion at the break.
Fiji looked to be cruising with Napolioni Qasevakatini and Matarerega hassling the New Caledonia defenders with their long runs before the visitors sneaked in their second goal to ensure a tense finish.
The national side could have won by a higher margin but squandered their chances.
Fiji coach Ravinesh Kumar said the boys seemed to panic after scoring three goals.
"We were winning and New Caledonia came from behind," Kumar said.
"The boys were panicking a bit. They were thinking that they would score another but could not."
Fiji made a bright start with Rewa rep Ratu Savenaca Nakalevu netting the opener in the ninth minute.
Ratu Nakalevu easily finished off the goal after New Caledonia goalkeeper Anthony Ajapuhnya fumbled his initial drive.
New Caledonia equalised in the 28th minute through Bernard Waelua after a defensive blunder. Matarerega put Fiji back in the front five minutes later with a perfectly taken free kick.
He broke through the New Caledonia defence in the 43rd minute and rifled in a right footer to score the third goal.
Qasevakatini seemed to be unlucky in the second half failing to get his shots on target.
Matarerega could have scored a hat trick in the 83rd minute but blasted the ball over the cross bar with only Ajapuhnya to beat.
New Caledonia pulled one back in the 88th minute after their skipper Jean-Brice Wadriako nodded in a corner kick.
New Caledonia coach Cedric Decoire said they left it too late in the match to find the equaliser. "It was our first game and we left it too late to really push up," Decoire said.
"If there was more time, I think we would have equalised."
Matarerega leads the golden boot chase in the competition. The Bavu villager has three goals to his name and is ahead of New Zealander Louis Fenton who scored two goals against Papua New Guinea on Thursday.
Fiji: Tevita Koroi, Antonio Tuivuna, Praneel Naidu, Jale Dreloa, Rusiate Matarerega, Kolinio Sivoki, Setareki Hughes, Narendra Rao, Ratu Savenaca Nakalevu, Napolioni Qasevakatini, Sakaraia Naisua.
New Caledonia: Anthony Ajapuhnya, Ernest Maperi, Jean-Brice Wadriako, Aquilas Wahnapo, Ben Malakai, Bernard Waelua, Jordy Xalite, Stephane Tein-Padom, Jean-Pierre Bob, Geordy Gony, Bernard Streiff.