FORMER champions Nadera Panthers made a winning start in the Vodafone Cup Top 8 competition with a 20-16 victory over the KBL Saru Dragons yesterday.
The Dragons were favourites after beating defending champions Sigatoka Electric Sabeto Roosters 16-6 last week.
But the Dee Cees-sponsored Panthers with the services of Fiji Bati reps Asaeli Saravaki, Sevanaia Koroi and Apisai Masikerei managed to dethrone the table toppers
Panthers playmaker Metuisela Koroi orchestrated a move that allowed Isoa Qioniwasa to score the opening try in the corner with Koroi nailing the conversion.
A penalty to Koroi and a well-deserved try to Keresoni Ledua gave them a 12-0 lead 20 minutes into the match.
The Dragons replied with a converted try to Ilaitia Rogorogoivalu to end the first half at 12-4.
Nadera managed scored another two tries in the second half to stretch their lead to 20-4.
Tikiko Noke and Ilaitia Turaganivalu scored for the Dragons as they tried to claw their way back into the match.
The Dragons had a try disallowed in the dying stages of the match as the Panthers held on for the win.
Dragon coach, Tevita Volavola commended the efforts of his troops but said poor officiating cost them the match.
"This is not right," he said.
"This type of refereeing will never do anything good for Fiji rugby league.
"We will write to the rugby league referee committee informing them of our disappointment at how our game with Nadera was being handled."
Nadera coach Vula Dakuitoga said his troops did what he had asked them to do in the match and that was how they won.
Earlier in the day, the Topline Warriors were beaten 8-18 by the Police Sharks, Nabua Broncos suffered their worst defeat at the hands of the Makoi Bulldogs 26-18.