TEBARA Bus Tailevu's two-year effort finally bears fruit after wresting the coveted Farebrother-Sullivan trophy from defenders Naitasiri with a heart stopping 16-14 win at the ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night.
After an unbeaten run in the Digicel Cup competition last year Tailevu's aspirations were dashed by Naitasiri, then coached by Reverend Joji Rinakama, in the semifinals.
Tailevu then in return denied the hillmen a Digicel Cup semifinal spot with a last minute effort in this year's clash. Naitasiri was coached by Saillosi Naiteqe senior.
Now under the coaching of schoolteacher Eroni Vereivalu, Naitasiri fell short in the final minute to Lance Whippy's "Push Tailevu" side after having claimed the scalps of giants Suva and Nadi.
In the end Naitasiri lost composure and Tailevu finally put the final nail in the coffin.
With seconds to go and trailing 13-14 Tailevu's kicker Amani Boseiwaqa hit the upright with a penalty attempt and Naitasiri celebrated. But the ball bounced back towards the Tailevu forwards, who controlled and were awarded a penalty which they kicked to win.
Against Nadi it was the other way around. The final drop goal attempt hit the post but Naitasiri players were able to secure possession and boot the ball out of play.
The game was of a high standard under pouring rain and wet conditions but Tailevu dominated possession from the first half and they won the game because they were able to keep and maintain possession for long periods of time.
They had patience and good ball management and with skipper Henry Seniloli leading the charge he would have been the best player of the day.
His decision-making and kicking pinned Naitasiri in their half and good defence by Tailevu stopped a number of powerful bursts by the backline led by Navitalai Ratulevu at centre and Nasoni Roko.
Naitasiri's ace kicker Waisale Luveniyali missed two crucial conversions and this week had a lesser attempt at goal as Tailevu kept the ball in the Naitasiri half for most of the game.
Luveniyali was slightly limping and he was caught by a couple of powerful Tailevu tackles while trying to slip his way past big forwards.
Whippy has shown that he is still one of the country's top coaches and he has been able to instil discipline and paitience in the players not to lose their composure in 80 minutes.
Last year he took a shadow Fiji team to Tonga and they beat Tonga quite convincingly.
Of the top sides in the country today Tailevu players showed they were in a class of their own by minimising mistakes that happens a lot around the fringes and in the rucks in their defensive areas. So Luveniyali was not given many chances to kick for goal.
As for Naitasiri the loss should not be taken as a total defeat as they have found new approach and discipline on and off the field and this was obvious as they marched out of the ground at halftime.
The brief reign will serve as a basis for next year's campaign but most of the players from the two unions will meet again before years end at the annual Sukuna Bowl clash.
Naitasiri was dominated by policemen while Tailevu had the Army Green players leading the charge.
Leone Nakarawa's presence was also a great boost to Tailevu and his return from overseas rugby has been a blessing in disguise for the Tebara side.
He was not able to play as he was not released by his clubs and is here to complete all the paperworks needed before rejoining his Scotland club. Tailevu now defends the trophy against Nadroga next week. They had a warm-up match the week before and Nadroga won 35-5.
But Tailevu were just cruising and had learnt their lesson from last year when they played a physical warm-up game against Namosi on Wednesday and played on Saturday and lost.
According to Nadroga rugby officials Tailevu were playing at half pace so the scoreline is not a true indication of what will happen next week. Nadroga will also be a depleted side as most of the top players will be in camp for the tour to the Northern hemisphere, some in the sevens and others not available.
Tailevu also will run into the ground confident because they had beaten Nadroga in the Digicel competition at Lawaqa Park.
Only time will tell us the final outcome but one thing is for sure and that it is not a game to be missed.