FIJI Rugby B Division champion Ba started its 2014 rugby campaign on a high note after beating Malolo 20-15 at Lautoka's Churchill Park yesterday.
The side survived a torrid and physical battle against the Mosese Volavola-coached Malolo outfit to keep their title hopes alive.
Head coach Gabirieli Naborisi said the side had set its target of winning the tournament after their loss to Macuata in last year's promotion-relegation.
He said the will to win and the hunger for victory had inspired his troops to defeat the islanders.
"We were expecting a tough game against Malolo and I thank the boys for playing their hearts out," said Naborisi.
"Defending the title is tough but I am confident the boys have what it takes to fulfil our goal.
"We have set a benchmark last year and our aim this year is to secure a spot in the major division."
He said the narrow promotion-relegation loss to Macuata last season still haunted the players and they were determined to go one better this season.
Naborisi said the match against Malolo exposed the team's strengths and weaknesses.
"The game has enabled us to see the weaknesses and the strengths of the team."
"We need a lot of improvement in the set pieces and general play before we face Beqa in our next game.
"I thank the boys for their effort to register our first win knowing the first game is always tough."
Fullback Jone Naio stole the show in an epic battle contributing 15 points to his team's tally.
The Nailaga lad was spot on with his kicks and his ability to evade tacklers was a thorn to the opposition.
"Naio played extremely well and I am confident he will maintain the consistency in the remaining games."
"We will be taking each game as they come and the players are aware of the expectation shouldered onto them."
Ba is pooled with Yasawa, Malolo and Beqa in Pool A with the winner to advance to the semi-finals.
Pool A: Ba, Malolo, Beqa and Yasawa - Churchill Park
Pool B: Colo North, Colo West and Ra - Garvey Park
Pool C: Rewa, Naitasiri Bulls, Serua and Kadavu - Ratu Cakobau Park
Pool D: Cakaudrove and Bua (home and away basis at Ganilau Park, Nabouwalu, Subrail Parks).