NAVUA left it too late for a grand comeback and succumbed to a 1-2 defeat to Rewa in the opening round of the Fiji Sun/Skipper Tuna National Football League encounter yesterday.
The Delta Tigers took advantage of an unsettled Navua and striker Iosefo Verevou nodded in the opener in the 9th minute of the play at a revamped Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori.
Rewa maintained the pressure through marksmen Verevou, Apisai Smith, Kelepi Qaqa and skipper Lorima Dau but was unable to extend the lead.
Rewa led 1-0 at the break.
Navua came rejuvenated and made some good attempts at Rewa goalmouth in the early stages of the second spell.
The side, playing a 5-3-2 defensive formation, started building play from their own territory but lacked an experienced and lethal finisher to get the equaliser.
Skipper Simione Maikali guided his gladiators superbly and also took shots at goal but failed to hit the target.
Rewa, which played a 4-2-3-1 formation, opted for counter-attack play in the second spell and the tactic payed off when lanky Smith found himself clear in front of the Navua goalmouth and slammed in for a 2-0 lead.
Navua pulled one back through Jesoni Takala in the dying stages of the match for a 2-1 score line in favour of Rewa.
"Win was what we wanted irrespective of how the win came by. Three points is very vital and to start off with a win is a good sign," Rewa coach Marika Rodu said.
"We played a defensive formation because of youth and inexperienced players in the team," Navua coach Mohammed Shafeel said.
"We also missed a lot of chances and we had more possession than Rewa but we couldn't convert that into goals."
Rewa, Suva and Nadroga are joint leaders after the opening round of the competition.
Rewa - Akuila Mataisuva, Peniame Drova, Lorima Dau (C), Poasa Bainivalu, Josateki Tanudu, Luke Lomasalato, Roderick Singh, Josefa Verevou, Setareki Hughes, Kelepi Qaqa, Apisai Smith.
Navua - Sheik Moshin, Simione Maikali (C), Simione Domoni, Abdul Moshin, Jesoni Takala, Netani Doli, Nazir Hussein, Rizwan Ali, Rajnesh Raju, Inoke O'Connor, Isikeli.