A TEACHER and a student relationship built over the past four years, propelled Ba Provincial Freebird Institute under-19 side to the finals of the Vodafone Fiji Secondary Schools Rugby League next week.
First-five Mesake Saukuru has been under the guidance of his coach Filipe Alifereti since the U15 grade. And yesterday, their combination matured and materialised as Ba Provincial upset Lelean Memorial School 22-14 in their semi-final clash at Nausori's Ratu Cakobau Park.
While Alifereti guided his boys to create another piece of history reaching the finals for the first time, Saukuru showed glimpses of a rising star.
He was later named in the Fiji Secondary Schools Rugby League U19 team to tour Australia next month.
The Soso lad from Naviti, Yasawa scored a massive 18 points and nearly single-handedly led his side to overcome the Davuilevu-based team.
Saukuru kicked five penalties, two conversions and scored the final try as Ba Provincial also retained the Vodafone Bati Shield and walked away with $200 for the second consecutive week.
Last week, during the quarter-final, the Lautoka-based school dethroned defending champions Nasinu Secondary School. Yesterday, Ba Provincial knocked out another rugby league heavyweight.
Next week, at Sigatoka's Lawaqa Park, Alifereti's boys face Navosa Central College in an even affair where both sides are making their first ever appearance in the final.
"We need to improve on completing our six balls," Alifereti said.
"I'm happy with the performance of the boys, we played well but there is always room for improvement."
He said the game plan was to capitalise on Lelean's mistakes.
"I told the boys to stick to the game plan, score any point whenever the opportunity arises because we have a good kicker in Mesake.
"He has been my kicker from U15 grade and I have seen that he has matured in his game coming to this level.
"I told his dad that I could take him to a higher level if Mesake takes heed of my advice.
"I always advised him to be disciplined in everything he did."
Saukuru slotted three penalties early in the first half and converted Apimeleki Lutuimawi's try for an early 12-0 lead in the 14th minute.
Lelean narrowed the deficit with a try to Edward Steward to trail 6-12 at the break. Saukuru added another two penalties to further Ba Provincial's lead to 18-6 before Lelean bounced back with a try.
Saukuru touched down for his try dragging two Lelean defenders to the tryline and successfully nailed the conversion from the sideline for 22-10 lead.
The home team had the final say with a consolation try.
Results: U15 - Nasinu 20 LDS 10, SGS 4 Rt Navula 26
U17 - Rt Navula 14 LMS 12, Nasinu 22 SGS 8
U19 - Navosa Central 18 MBHS 16, Ba Pro 22 Lelean 14