WHAT a weekend of sports locally and internationally. Fijian wingers once again hit the jackpot and Akuila Uate again stamped his mark as one of the best finishers of the game for Newcastle Knights as they shocked defending Australian rugby league champions Melbourne Storm 18-16 in their own back yard in Melbourne.
He scored the opening try after receiving the ball with two men to beat. He outran one and then crashed through the desperate shoulder charge of Storm star Billy Slater.
He could have scored more tries but the inside runners failed to pass the ball in time and were often stopped trying to go on their own.
Hopefully he does not make the Kangaroos side as his attacking prowess is best utilised by Fijian rugby flair.
Storm's Sisa Waqa also scored a try and both teams scored three tries each but a missed conversion was the difference.
After being the top dog for two seasons, the loss also comes as a relief physically. Waqa had a neck brace from an injury the week before but shrugged it off to play in the semi-finals and got hammered again in more places than one by the determined Knights.
Knights had Fijian players Uate and Kevin Naiqama on the wings and they were instrumental in the win and that could further impress the Aussie selectors and our Fiji Bati could lose both guys to the Kangaroos.
But that means more openings for our gallant local players who came from behind to beat the Overseas Fijians in last week's trials.
In one of the most exciting and entertaining rugby matches of the year, Otago beat Manawatu 52-41 in the ITM Cup in New Zealand in the weekend.
Otago recently had a one-week reign on the Ranfurly Shield, taking it from Waikato but lost it to Hawke's Bay the week after.
However, they have been hitting top form since their demise and it could all have been inspired by the Ranfurly win after 57 years. Otago had last won the shield in 1956.
There's only one pattern of rugby played in New Zealand from the clubs to the provincial teams right to the top level and it's expansive, fast and furious rugby.
There's none of the forward dominated play of yesteryear and now they are playing what we used to call as our very own open rugby play or running rugby.
It is something that should also happen locally and hopefully our new rugby academy now run by Franck Boivert, an advocate of open running rugby, will produce the same results.
Kiwi Mike Ryan's term as High Performance Unit manager may have been brief but he set up the academy, something he had been doing all over New Zealand in the past two decades and its impact on local rugby will soon be realised.
Meanwhile, locally it all came down to a decision for Suva to kick a penalty or go for a lineout then try in the dying minutes against Naitasiri.
As we predicted last week, Suva coach Salimoni Ravouvou only had the first 40 minutes to assess the Naitasiri strength and weaknesses because of a new coaching team while Naitasiri had the advantage of evaluating all past Suva games beforehand.
The Suva coach quickly changed the game plan in the second half and Suva scored 13 points to Naitasiri's lone three points from a penalty but it was not enough to keep the prized rugby possession.
For the capital side there's always next year to look forward to and further develop the pool of players in the squad.
After playing bridesmaid for several seasons Naitasiri has returned to the top in provincial rugby and the players have responded well with the new coaching change.
Now they have three challenges to defend the trophy and Naitasiri fans are expected to return in big numbers this weekend as well as Nadi supporters.
Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy challenges are big occasions and the holders take home the lion's share of the gate takings.
Naitasiri are expected to defend the trophy at the ANZ Stadium to maximise their profits.
Last Saturday in a fundraising event by Suva's Nadroga community held at Ratu Sukuna Memorial School, there were mixed reactions to the win as there were Nadroga, Suva and Naitasiri fans.
Suva Stallions rugby club plays in Naitasiri and has had several players representing the side in past years, the most prominent being Kolinio Vunaki.
The club is coached by former Flying Fijian utility back Norman Ligairi.
Team official Ted Vuki and his players were downing bowls of the brown liquid in celebration at RSMS.
"Many of our players have gone on to play rugby overseas and for Fiji from Naitasiri and we may be from Nadroga but we breathe, live and eat, drink in Naitasiri and that's where our allegiance on the rugby field is," he said.
Nadroga rugby players and officials also took part in the fundraising and a Nadroga number 1 jersey was raffled at the cost of a $2 ticket and won by a teenage girl.
The change of holders of the Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy breathes new life and excitement to the competition and if the close Digicel Cup match results are anything to go by this trophy may travel every week from now on. But it's the litmus test for the new coaching team and the question everyone wants answered is, can the highlanders survive?
Challenging and winning is tough but defending it is a different kettle of fish.