THE powerful, heavier and experienced Suva forward pack trampled all over Namosi at the ANZ Stadium yesterday.
While handling errors, some aimless kicking and wrong options cost the First Landing-sponsored challengers, as anticipated Fiji Bitter Suva dominated the battle upfront to retain the Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy 33-17 at Laucala.
Stand-off Isoa Donaldson was outstanding both in general play and his kicking game. The man, seen as Fiji rugby's next Severo Koroduadua, booted three penalties and two conversions to add to tries from wingers Vilitati Sokiveta, Sunia Kubu, skipper Dale Tonawai and prop Vesi Rarawa.
Namosi, crushed in the scrums and down 5-18 at half-time, scored through winger Neumi Lagilagi, second five Levani Botia and fullback Ilai Tinai, who switched to first receiver late in the game. Joji Ragamate, who came in for first-five Semesa Takirua in the second spell before dropping back to fullback, missed an easy penalty before landing a conversion.
Namosi looked good every time they ran the ball but lacked the killer instinct and were left to rue several wrong options and handling errors.
"We did not stick to our game pattern," Namosi coach Timoci Wainiqolo said afterwards.
"The dropped balls, wrong options and our kicking was very poor."
He conceded that they were also outmuscled in the forwards.
"They definitely got us there. They have a very good forward pack but their backline is not that sharp."
Despite the win, Suva coach Salimoni Ravouvou was far from impressed.
"Our defence wasn't up to it, the way Namosi came back to score those tries wasn't good," he said.
"We can't afford that in cup challenge matches. Yes we won but overall I can't say that I am happy with the performance.
"We are taking one game at a time and we need to improve with every match."
Suva forwards stood tall in the lineouts, rocked Namosi in the scrum, were like terriers in counter-rucking, and worked their rolling mauls well.
They played to their strength and came out trumps while Namosi, as expected, tried to run the ball at every opportunity, relying on Fiji sevens reps Tinai, Botia and winger Setefano Cakau to outwit Suva.
All of their tries came from backline play, the best being Tinai's dummy and sprint from the fringes of the ruck in the 75th minute.
That came a little too late as Suva had the game wrapped up by then having built up a 30-10 lead.
At times Botia, though vibrant, opted to go himself and cut infield, trying to barge through during Namosi's backline swing when he would have been better served committing and off-loading as there were always two Suva players going for him when he got his hands on the ball.
At least twice his off-loads out wide, when Namosi had an overlap, came too late.
Man-of-the match Sokiveta cut the opposition defence to shreds with his surging runs.
For the first try, he set the game alight making some 40 metres with a run through the middle after collecting the ball inside his own 22.
Centre John Stewart continued the move from second phase play.
The Namosi defence tried hard to keep them out, but in the end the man who started it at the other end, Sokiveta, finished it off in style with a dive in the corner.
He also put in a good defensive effort but the hit-of-the-match was when Botia smashed into Rarawa in the second spell.
Vatukoula faces Suva next Saturday in the third challenge match.