FIJI secondary rugby champions Ratu Navula College will defend the prestigious Coca-Cola Deans Trophy from the unpredictable Natabua High School side in the West Zone 2 feature under-18 game this afternoon.
The battle is a must-win game for the Nadi-based school in order to keep their hopes alive of defending the Deans Trophy from eastern giants such as QVS, RKS, Lelean and Nasinu.
The winner of this game will also represent the West for the national quarter-finals and also keep the Voravora Trophy which was won by Ratu Navula last year.
Ratu Navula looseman Aisea Volavola said the players would lay their bodies on the line against their Western neighbours in their first major defence campaign this season.
"I know that defending the title is a tough job," he said.
"The Deans Trophy is important to us and we will defend it with our lives.
"We are focused on the game and we expect a good, clean and tough game from Natabua."
Natabua skipper Kitione Kamikamica said the game was crucial for the team because the winner would proceed to the main quarter-final.
"We expect a big game since Ratu Navula is defending champion," he said.
"It is a very important game because there is only one spot from our zone at the quarter-finals.
"We will try and work according to our game plan and stick to the principle of rugby which is possession, drive forward, support, continuity and pressure."
School principal Setareki Merekula said the game against Natabua was important for the school.
He said his troops were aware of the significance of the game to the team and to the school.
"It is a very significant moment to the boys especially playing against Natabua," said Merekula.
"Natabua are reigning champion in the West, they defeated us in the U17 last year."