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Nadro starts defence

Kameli Rakoko
Friday, August 29, 2014

THE supreme symbol of local rugby championship, the HFC Bank Farebrother Sullivan Trophy go up another dimension tomorrow and for the next seven weeks.

This is after the timely sponsorship of the Home Finance Company Bank that fully equiped the challenging teams, defenders and the handsome prizemoney of $5,000 for the winner.

A new set of jerseys for the teams and officials and $2,000 for preparation means teams will have no excuse of putting up a below par performance.

Training T-shirts and bula shirts to include three officials will make the end of the season rugby battles a highlight in our local rugby calendar.

These leave the unions the hard earned cash from their various sponsors to cater for the welfare and allowances of the players.

So, despite the 50-7 thrashing Naitasiri received last weekend in the Skipper Cup final, they will be expected to hit back hard in the first challenge tomorrow.

The Farebrother is a one-off challenge cup and the surviving fittest for either team wins the trophy.

Winning at Lawaqa Park is not a mission impossible for the highlanders as they have done that a couple of times before.

The most famous of which was the 1998 Benson & Hedges Cup victory under the guidance of coach Manasa Radrotini.

With such a high intense game and victory last week, the question is whether the Esala Nauga- coached Stallions' side have the mental toughness to repeat the feat this week.

There are a couple of difference between last week's game and tomorrow's.

In the Skipper Cup final, Nadroga had two weeks to prepare mentally and physically while Naitasiri just played and beat Nadi the previous week.

Nadroga will be on a high pedestal and playing the same opponent again a week later and naturally there is the danger of overconfidence creeping into the team.

They will also be without flanker, Epeli Natuikata, who has been cited for dangerous tackle with equally powerful national sevens forward Apisai Domolailai forcing his way in.

Nadroga also had six players serving suspension after a liquor related incident in Australia while playing for the Fiji Warriors.

These include ace kicker Jiuta Lutumailagi, but they were hardly missed as they did not play last week.

Naitasiri led by president Master Peceli Rinakama and coach Samu Domoni will be like a mountain lion licking it's wound and nursing a hurt pride.

They will be laying their bodies on the line for if they lose, this could become their final match of 2014.

Domoni, a world cup 2011 rugby coach will have to dig deep into his immense resources from rugby playing experience to find a counter to the Nadroga attacking game.

Domoni played for Fiji as a lock.

In 1991 he represented the Southern Hemisphere team with Severo Koroduadua against the Northern Hemisphere side.

Fiji rugby development hopes for a better Naitasiri game this week and skipper Nasoni Roko had promised that they would have better preparations.

Nadroga are thriving under the able leadership of president Tiko Matawalu, patron Ratu Aisea Wakanimolikula, treasurer Manoa Veremalua, coaches Esala Nauga, Jonetani Waqa and managers Paula Biu and Pita Kedralevu.

They have big tailor-made squad for their defence of the Farebrother in the next two months.

The impressive victory last weekend came two points short of breaking the 2004 record set by former coach Reverend Joji Rinakama's team against Tailevu at the national stadium.

Nadroga was the underdog then and beat defending champions Tailevu 52-13 in the Telecom Cup final.

Current officials Matawalu, Biu and Waqa were players then and the backline coach was Nauga.

They then beat Nadi at Prince Charles Park the week after to wrest the Farebrother trophy with another big record-breaking score of 48-8.

A cartoon strip that appeared in a newspaper many years ago had a fallen cowboy on the ground with another standing beside him with a smoking gun.

He had obviously won the gun draw.

The caption below reads: "He was the fastest gun in Texas. But this is California."

The same, the die-hard Naitasiri fans can say about tomorrow's game.

So should they not be disheartened and come down in buses and carriers to cheer for their team at Lawaqa Park.

Last week was the Skipper Cup final but this is the Farebrother Sullivan trophy and it is a different kettle of fish altogether.

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