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RKS faces the champ

Kameli Rakoko
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

FORMER schools rugby champions Ratu Kadavulevu School have thrown down the gauntlet to Coca-Cola Zero Deans defending champion Ratu Navula after an emphatic 48-17 win against, also a former national champion side, Suva Grammar at the ANZ Stadium on Saturday.

The week before they dethroned QVS 23-10 in the Eastern Zone and even with their star halfback Aminiasi Rokosugu and top players on the bench, last Saturday, the forward pack took the schoolboy's rugby competition to another dimension after their pick and drive moves straight down the middle of the paddock.

The highly rated Ratu Kadavulevu School forward machine will receive a fire test in the much anticipated clash against defending champions Ratu Navula this Saturday at the ANZ Stadium.

It would have been a fitting final. But it's not the same high flying Ratu Navula Dream Team side of 2013 and on paper they face an uphill task against the Lodonians who will give them a much tougher game than what John Wesley gave last weekend.

But after being held to a 16-16 draw by John Wesley then later awarded the match because they scored more tries they also have a psychological advantage over RKS because for the past couple of years they have halted RKS in their semi-final clashes.

But according to a number of RKSOB fans who were bubbling with excitement after last Saturday's game, "We finally have a team we can cheer for," they admitted.

Many fans of the biggest boarding school in the country have stayed away or watched impassively from the stands as other schools took over the spotlight and even a dream team of a couple of years ago had their dreams buried short in the Laucala dirt.

But this team is a far cry from other dream teams of the school of yesteryear. According to RKS fans I was sitting with at the grandstand last year the team had not qualified for the quarter-final from the zone but a technicality after a protest on a school by another left an opening for them to slip through.

They were brought in to make up the numbers but instead they rose from the ashes and won the quarter-finals, semi-finals and beat Lelean in the under-17 final.

As shown against SGS they are slow starters and gradually get into their tempo and grind it out. They also lack a reliable goalkicker having the attitude of "why worry about kicking when we can score tries any time we want to".

Last year they did have a number of big forwards and played good basic rugby. This year they have gotten even better. They topped the Eastern zone.

Of the Ratu Navula side they have the backing of the whole Nadi rugby fraternity and they are part of the development of the powerful Nadi Rugby Union.

They have all the know-how of tackling the Lodoni forward machine and will not just lie down and get rolled over like the Grammarians did.

Grammar lacked an accurate kicker and they missed many first half penalty attempts.

Ratu Navula have a reliable kicker and fast backline and if they maintain discipline and keep the basics right they might just throw a spanner in the works.

As for Lelean and QVS they showed a lot of promise. Both sides are early starters and QVS quickly built up an early 20-0 lead against Navuso but one Matavatucou player was yellow carded. Navuso sprang into action and scored two tries in the second half they were dominating QVS threatening to score another when time caught up on them.

As for Lelean they put on hold for another year the dreams of the Marist Old Boys who had gathered to cheer the red fire on.

Marist showed glimpses of brilliance often cutting through the Lelean defence and after an early try by Marist two Red Fire old boys sitting nearby could not contain their joy as they jumped from their seats, took a high five and shook each other's hands.

But then their fortunes changed as they watched in silence, swearing under their breadth and at times shouting out coaching tips in frustration. In the end they stood up full smiling and shook hands vigorously satisfied or maybe reminded of their school motto to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.

For this Saturday's matches heart patients are advised to stay home and go to bed early because both under-18 matches are expected to be heart-stoppers.

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