THE Eastern Secondary Schools Rugby Zone is confident of reclaiming the coveted Deans Trophy under-18.
Thus was the message that was relayed publicly to the spectators after the zone finals at the Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori yesterday. For once after several years, the Eastern zone lost the prestigious silverware to another zone, West Two - Ratu Navula College in particular.
But after yesterday's finals where Ratu Kadavulevu School defeated Queen Victoria School 23-10 in the U18 final, the Eastern Zone officials are confident, one of the schools, QVS, RKS and Lelean Memorial will reclaim the trophy that belongs to the zone.
The three secondary schools rugby heavyweights have all qualified for the Deans quarter-finals whereby RKS finished as the top seeded team and QVS and LMS follow suit. Navuso Methodist High School has again qualified for the quarter-finals for the second year in a row.
RKS plays Suva Grammar School in the Deans quarter-final next week while LMS takes on Marist Brothers High School.
Defending champion Ratu Navula College tackles John Wesley and QVS battles Navuso.
"Either one of these schools will reclaim the Deans for the Eastern zone," said the zone secretary, Samisoni Baikeitoga.
RKS led QVS 11-10 at half-time before its super-subs lifted the game's momentum to another level.
Replacement players Tomasi Salaiwai and Onisivoro Sukani touched down for the boys from Delainakaikai as they dominated all aspects of the match.
Team manager Qatia Brown said they looked forward to the Deans quarter-final.
"We came into this game to give something back to the supporters and we're happy with the result," he said.
"But we need to go back and re-group before facing Grammar in the quarter-final."
In the U18 third and fourth place playoff, LMS defeated Navuso 23-11.
MBHS which won the Southern zone competition will face a stiff competition from the former champions next week on Saturday.
LMS received some valuable rugby tips from former Nadroga, Naitasiri head coach and Flying Fijians assistant coach Reverend Joji Rinakama and will be tough nut to crack.
Navuso exposed LMS at crucial times during the match, however, the Davuilevu boys are hoping to win its first Deans competition ever since the new U18 grade was implemented, four years ago.
The Deans quarter-finals will be played at the ANZ Stadium.
Meanwhile in other results yesterday, the QVS U15 side beat LMS 13-9, in the U16 final, RKS beat QVS 15-13, RKS thumped LMS 22-11 in the U19 grade while QVS edged Wainimala 10-7 in the play-off.