A POWERFUL comeback in the second spell handed Naitasiri a 25-21 win over Nadi in the Skipper Cup competition at Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori yesterday.
The Highlanders were down 8-11 at the break but a strong pep talk by coach Eroni Vereivalu got the players into action as they toiled hard to secure the crucial win.
The visitors got the first points on the board through fullback Venisemani Ratubalavu in the second minute before Kini Douglas scored a try to give Naitasiri the 5-3 lead.
Fly-half Douglas added a three-pointer before Nadi scored its opening try through winger Sunia Vosikata to level the game 8-all.
Nadi took advantage of the unorganised defensive structure of the hosts in the final stages of the match and Ratubalavu slotted the penalty to give his side 11-8 lead at the break.
Naitasiri looked a better side in the second spell and scored two tries through Esava Delai and replacement Veresi Daku while Douglas managed two conversions and a penalty to seal the 25-21 win.
Nadi staged a strong comeback in the dying stages of the match and managed a converted try from fly-half Kaveni Varo and Ratubalavu kicked a successful penalty to reduce the deficit but the side ran out of time to topple Naitasiri.
Naitasiri coach Vereivalu thanked his players for putting up a brave fight.
He also thanked the team management and the fans for their support.
"We started very well but we lost momentum in terms of ball control and poor organisation in the last 10 minutes of the first half and that's how Nadi managed to come back into the game," he said.
"We just regrouped in the second half and we came better organised both in attack and defence and that helped us to finish well."
Nadi stand-in coach Cohan Politini said they missed the services of their key players who were playing in the Fiji Bitter Nawaka 7s.
"We got about 14 of our first 15 not here," he said.
"But this is just the start, what we can do from this is just learn from it and use it as the stepping block.
"There are a lot of places where we actually failed and there were a few decisions we didn't agree with but that's rugby and all we can do is learn from this and move on."