TAILEVU escaped Macuata's late rally, despite playing with a man down to secure a bonus point victory under a heavy-foot conditions at Ratu Cakobau Park yesterday.
It was a hard fought 23-18 win for the green machine which resulted from Macuata's poor decision-making in the final stages of the game.
After Tailevu's number eight Vilikesa Gasaudrau was sent off for punching a Macuata player, the visitors took advantage of the extra man to score 10 points in the second spell after trailing 8-13 at the break.
Fullback Emori Waqa opened the account for Tailevu via a penalty. Macuata's flyhalf Waisea Vocea equalled the score with a penalty in the eighth minute. Blindside flanker Jim Temo extended Tailevu's lead to 8-3 with a try, four minutes later.
Macuata's openside winger Ratu Meli Vula levelled the score 8-all, with a try in the corner before his opposite man Samu Bainivalu raced away to the tryline after picking a loose ball beside a ruck to put Tailevu back in the lead 13-8 heading into the interval.
Early in the second half, Vocea converted a penalty to close the margin 11-13 when Vilikesa Gasaudrau was sent off before Tailevu's inside centre Vilitati Togavou dived in the corner for Tailevu's third try, a consolation of a flat pass beside a ruck from player of the match and Flying Fijian scrumhalf Henry Seniloli. Tailevu led 18-11.
In the final 30 minutes, Macuata dominated possession with some skilful play displayed by blindside flanker Nemani Biu and number eight Viliame Gunuvulavula. The duo punched hard in Tailevu's defensive line, often committing more than two defenders when in possession.
Fullback Sosiceni Daugunu scored a decisive try for Macuata and Vula's conversion from the touchline levelled score at 18-all, with less 10 minutes left in the game.
Tailevu played patient rugby, playing with 14 men, which resulted in the winning try to lock forward Jo Matasau.
Gracious in defeat, Macuata coach Sireli Vesikuru said they headed into the game with a mission to beat Tailevu.
"I'm happy with our performance but some wrong decision-making in the end cost us the game," he said.