ONE down three to go
Reigning Fiji Secondary Schools rugby champion Ratu Navula College started its Coca-Cola Deans Trophy defence campaign on a high note with a 24-5 win over Natabua in the final of the West Zone 2 at Lautoka's Churchill Park yesterday.
The Nadi-based side outsmarted the gutsy Sugar City boys in a torrid rugby battle to secure a berth in the upcoming do-or-die national quarter-finals.
The hard fought win has set the platform for the Ratu Navula gladiators in their quest to successfully defend the prestigious Deans trophy against the other rugby giants such as QVS, RKS and Lelean.
Coach Yabaki Drisu was pleased to see his troops survive a torrid battle against their Lautoka neighbour.
He said Natabua had given his boys the taste of tough and competitive rugby.
"We thank Natabua for giving us a very tough game," said Drisu.
"Defending the Deans trophy is tough and we are pleased that we have overcome the first test against a tough and physical Natabua outfit.
"Natabua exposed our weaknesses — something we need to work on before the quarter-finals."
Drisu commended his boys for their effort and also urged them to focus on the elimination stages.
"The quarter-final will be a different ball game and we need to improve on the weaknesses we committed today," he said.
"We will take each game as they come."
Nippy inside centre Sela Toga made the difference in the game scoring 12 points from his boot that inspired his teammates to win the game.
The Saunaka native made full use of the quality possession and penalties won by their forwards to punish Natabua.
The Natafarians, however, started the game on a high note scoring the first try of the match but some basic mistakes and poor decision makings led to their downfall.