LIKE flashing beacon lights, the warning signs are there for all provincial rugby sides for the 2013 season.
There will be no plain sailing — heed the warning, change course, shape up and be ready, or face what happened to Nadroga yesterday.
The Digicel Cup champions' challenge ran aground at Albert Park in face of a superior forward display by the Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy holders. Fiji Bitter-sponsored Suva showed they will be the team to beat this term with a convincing 20-7 triumph in yesterday's Champion Versus Champion showdown to hoist the Dan Lobendahn Trophy and $2000, given by RC Manubhai.
It was only a pre-season hit-out, on paper more like a shadow boxing match but the intensity was obvious with two players, one from each side, sin-binned. In the end, a water-tight defence and brawn and brain of the Suva pack shone through.
All three Suva tries came from pick and drives from their forwards.
After weathering an early barrage of Nadroga attacks, Suva took 12 minutes to finally breach the Stallions 22-metre line.
From a lineout, they inched their way to the try line with a rolling maul and it wasn't long before Manasa Saulo barged over following a series of pick and drives. Suva 5-0.
Stand-off Kaminieli Neiqisa kicked a penalty to make it 8-0 before winger Uraia Tuidama was sin-binned just before half-time. Using the numerical advantage, Tuidama's opposite number, Simeli Taqea dived over in the corner for Nadroga. Fullback Apisalome Waqatabu converted to close the gap to 7-8 at the break.
Skipper Ilimotasi Nawalu got Suva's second try as they opted again to play it tight inside the opposition 22. Nawalu ploughed his way over to make it 13-7.
Suva's third try looked to have been plotted on the reserves bench. Just when Nadroga tried to get some rhythm into their game, substitute Suva forward Epeli Rokotuinuku took an intercept but was taken in a high tackle close to the try line. Fellow sub, flanker Jitoko Usumaki quickly took a tap from the ensuing penalty and forced his way over close to the sticks. Reserve halfback Anare Saurara added the extras for the 20-7 full-time score.
Nadroga flyhalf Sireli Naoba was yellow-carded for a late hit towards the end.
With the powerful financial backing and support of Paradise Beverages, MH, RC Manubhai and Fulton Hogan Hiways, Suva Rugby Union looks set to celebrate their 100-year anniversary in style. The trophy presentation was done by the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama.
Nadroga: Eneri Lotawa, Apete Salawaqavuka, Alivereti Cawanibuka, Eminoni Rokomanu, Iliesa Kali, Atunaisa Kulavere, Jone Naqoroqorovakatini, Asaeli Boko, Etonia Bula, Sireli Naoba, Savenaca Rawaqa, Samuela Cava, Iliesa Ratuva, Simeli Taqea, Apisalome Waqatabu.
Suva: Isireli Temo, Josaia Colati, Manasa Saulo, Savenaca Tabakanalagi, Ifereimi Ravula, Ilitomasi Nawalu, Eparama Ravulo Jolame Bera, Aporosa Kenatale, Kaminieli Neiqisa, Nacani Wakaya, Pio Raitoni, Sitiveni Kunaga, Uraia Tuidama, Isikeli Vuruna.