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New champion

Maciu Malo
Sunday, May 18, 2014

SABETO defeated Gaunavou 9-6 to become the new holders of the KK'S Hardware Shield after a physical encounter at Nadi's Prince Charles Park on Friday night.

Playing with 14 men for more than 50 minutes inspired the Sabeto boys to come out of their comfort zone and ended Gaunavou's four-week fairytale run.

Super sub Kolinio Radrovi was the hero for Sabeto after dissecting the uprights with a 34-metre penalty on the stroke of fulltime.

Both teams were locked 6-all in the last stages of the game before referee Pat Gock penalised Gaunavou players for offside play giving Sabeto the opportunity to clinch the game.

Radrovi made no mistake slicing the uprights for the team's winning point.

The game lived up to the expectation of the jam-packed fans witnessed this exciting rugby battle.

Indiscipline was the order of the day as both teams copped a red card each, four Sabeto players were flashed with yellow cards and one Gaunavou player was also sinbinned.

Sabeto made a good start and registered the first point of the game to lead 3-0. It was a seesaw battle as both teams failed to cross the tryline in the first spell.

Gaunavou came back strongly in the second spell pressuring the opposition to commit unforced errors and was later rewarded with a penalty to level the score.

The two sides later traded penalties in the later stages of the game to leave the scores at 6-all before Radrovi broke the deadlock.

Sabeto coach Jo Lalawa commended his troops for their gutsy performance despite five of their players being sinbinned.

He said his boys never lost hope despite playing with 12 men at one point of the game.

Lalawa also thanked Gaunavou for the providing a tough battle.

"We have prepared well for this game and I thank the boys for their effort," said Lalawa.

"On the other hand we still regard Gaunavou as the champion side and we respect them for what they had achieved.

"The onus is on us to retain this shield during the upcoming challenges."

Lalawa said the win was dedicated to the Tui Sabeto and to the fans. Sabeto will meet Korovuto next weekend.

Gaunavou defeated Momi, Tovolea, Saunaka and Army during the past four challenges.

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