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Mission of the 1957 tour

Kameli Rakoko
Saturday, March 29, 2014

AFTER the 1954 tour of Australia Fiji played against Auckland on their way home and were well beaten.

So for those who made the 1957 tour of New Zealand the game against Auckland was a mission of vengeance.

The 1957 tour was another great tour by the Fiji team as they beat Auckland by more than 30 points and also defeated the New Zealand Maoris in both Tests.

The coach was Apakuki Tuitavua and manager was Ratu Penaia Ganilau.

The team had set off planning to make a repeat of the unbeaten tour of 1939 and after two build-up games and a win against Auckland they knew they were going to achieve their goal of remaining unbeaten.

But they underestimated lowly-rated King Country and rested their star players and even coach Tuitavua was playing.

But the main cause of their loss that day was a young, tall and big lock called Colin Meads.

Meads became an All Black that year and became a rugby legend not only in New Zealand but all over the world.

Meads or Pinetree, as he was known, won all the line-outs and King Country was better prepared than our touring Fijians.

But according to an interview of former Fiji halfback Suliasi Vatubua the win against Auckland was the sweetest revenge as he had played in both the 1951 and 1954 teams that lost to the champion New Zealand side.

The match against Auckland was tough but the Fijians had hatched a plot to disrupt their game-plan by having Tomasi Naidole marking the All Blacks' most dangerous second-five in that era, T R Lineen.

Lineen was always dangerous when he was given room to move as he was elusive with a fantastic sidestep and was a hard tackler.

Auckland had planned their game around Lineen but Naidole stuck to him and never gave him any space. Vatubua said it was like doomsday in Auckland that day as they were the most powerful New Zealand union and had the most All Blacks and were thrashed on their own turf in front of their home crowd.

The newspapers had virtually written Fiji off in pre-match comments, which motivated the Fijians to lift their game.

Again big Joe Levula was in a class of his own both in attack and in defence and most of the time the Kiwis were spectators as the Fijians made width of the field passes and sidesteps around the defence.

The most spectacular try of the game was initiated from the 22-metre line and then first-five Kaiava Bose sliced through the whole defence before halfway.

He left everyone flatfooted that no one was chasing him and he walked the rest of the way to the tryline to score.

The crowd loved it and Bose received a standing ovation from the crowd when he walked back from the tryline.

After the tour a group of Nadi and Nadroga players accompanied Mike Ravula to his village in Beqa. The group included Tomasi Naidole, Jo Saukuru and Joe Levula.

Reports said there were feasts and dancing during their four days stay there and when they left Naidole had taken with him a young Dakuni girl to Yako, Nadroga.

She married Naidole and they settled in England as Naidole and Levula went on to play rugby league for the Rochdale Club there.





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