YOU can't be seriously competitive in the oval ball game if you don't have a solid forward pack and a reliable goal kicker.
That's what Namosi found out yesterday. The First Landing-sponsored team had some other flaws in yesterday's 17-33 Farebrother Trophy challenge loss to Suva at the ANZ Stadium yesterday, but Isoa Donaldson, his almost flawless kicking game and the Suva pack were the match winners.
The Namosi scrum was poleaxed and crushed, the challengers were rolled over in mauls, outfought and outmuscled in the rucks although they showed a lot of fighting spirit with their defence during Suva's massive drives close to their try line
Then there was the formidable figure of stand-off Donaldson. He was in total command with general kicking game and shots at goal and is not a bad defender either.
While Semesa Takirua fluffed three kickable shots at goal, two conversions and a penalty, and substitute Joji Ragamate pulled wide a shocker from right in front of the posts, Donaldson booted 13 points, succeeding with five from eight attempts.
His attempts in the second half showed how good a kicker he was. Kicking into the wind, he judged it well, had power and accuracy. Two of his conversion attempts were almost from the sideline. He landed one and one bounced off the upright.
The loss may have been disappointing for Namosi but they finished off their season on a solid note, making the top four in the Digicel Cup in only their first season in the top flight — not bad for Timoci Wainiqolo and his men. Some questionable decisions by the referee went against them and they would have felt hard done by. Lock Vaione Tegu, although sin-binned late in the game, had a good outing.
Here's how play went:
5th minute: Suva 3-0. Donaldson boots a penalty for off-side.
7th minute: Suva 8-0. Wing Vilitati Sokiveta starts off a move from inside his own half and then several phases later is at the end of it to dive in the corner. Donaldson misses conversion attempt.
10th minute: Suva 8-5. Namosi run the ball and a chip over the top sees the ball fall kindly for wing Neumi Lagilagi, who kicks through and dives over. Takirua misses conversion attempt.
17th minute: Suva 11-5. Namosi skipper Iakobo Bese loses possession and hands a turnover from which Suva get a penalty, Donaldson is on target.
36th minute: Suva 18-5. This was the turning point of the game. Namosi looking good for almost 15 minutes and seeing a lot of the ball. They are hot on the attack but a solid counter-ruck by Suva some 10 metres from their own try line sees them head off to the other end. The Namosi players are slow in falling back. They eventually do get back but the power of the Suva pack is too hot to handle. A penalty, Suva opts for a scrum and skipper Dale Tonawai dives over under the posts. Donaldson converts and Suva takes a handy 18-5 lead at the break.
6th minute: Suva 18-10. Playing with the breeze behind their back, Namosi restart with a bang as Lepani Botia goes in for a try as the ball flows through the backline. Takirua misses conversion attempt.
14th minute: Suva 25-10. Another poor play by Namosi. Takirua fumbles and then hands over a forward pass inside his 22. Suva take charge and after several pick and drives close to the line, released their backline and Sunia Kubu goes in near the corner flag. Donaldson kicks an absolute beauty of a conversion.
22th minute: Suva 30-10. Substitute Necani Wakaya puts up a bomb, follows through, beats Tegu to the aerial ball, is taken down inside the Namosi 22 but from the ensuing play prop Vesi Rarawa scores a winger's try!
28th minute: Suva's Apisai Naqaliva is sin-binned for a high hit.
29th minute: Tegu gets a yellow too.
35th minute: Suva 30-17. Tinai sells a dummy from the fringes of a ruck and runs in for an easy try with barely anyone to lay hands on him. Ragamate converts.
40th minute: Suva 33-17. Donaldson adds another penalty with the last kick of the game.
Namosi 1 Ilaisa Nailouata, 2. Viliame Stala, 3. Iakobo Bose, 4 Petero Suiniika, 5. Vaione Tegu, 6. Apakuki Vuaviri, 7. Sakiusa Nadruku, 8. Sailosi Naiteqe, 9. Etuate Nete, 10. Semesa Takirau, 11. Setefano Cakau, 12, Lepani Botia, 13. Iliesa Salusalu, 14. Neumi Lagilagi, 15. Ilai Tinai
Reserves: 16. Joeli Tuberi, 17. Viliame Rogose, 18. Sakeasi Ravutugaga, 19. Risiate Tadulala, 20. Atunaisa Maiono, 21. Joji Ragamate, 22. Jone Vota, 23. Waisake Batikado.
Suva: 1 Vesi Rarawa; 2 Samu Suguturaga; 3 Manasa Saulo; 4 Savenaca Tabakanalagi; 5 Jone Delai; 6 James Brown; 7 Samu Bola; 8 Dale Tonawai; 9 Aporosa Kenatale; 10 Isoa Donaldson; 11 Vilitati Sokiveta; 12 Mika Ratuvou; 13 John Stewart; 14 Sunia Kubu; 15 Josefa Basudra.
Reserves: 16 Peceli Mara; 17 Alifoso Yalayalatabua; 18 Osea Vereivalu; 19 Josefa Levula; 20 Joeli Nabogikolo; 21 Apisai Naqaliva; 22 Necani Wakaya; 23 Leeroy Atalifo.