BLK Nadroga survived a tough and physical battle against the Tacirua Transport Naitasiri side to successfully defend the HFC Bank Farebrother Sullivan ttrophy at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka yesterday.
The defending champions were stretched to the wire by the gutsy highlanders to record a narrow 25-20 win in their first title defence.
Naitasiri was a completely different team compared with the one that lost 7-50 in the Skipper Cup final as they bombarded the opposition with bone crunching tackles and aggressive approach that disrupted Nadroga's game plan.
But like a true champion the Stallions absorbed the pressure and turned the tables on their opponents to overcome their first Farebrother obstacle.
National 7s training squad member and Nadroga number 8 Eremasi Radrodro was the toast for his team.
The Batiki, Lomaiviti native laid the platform at the base of the scrums and made some breaking runs that enabled him to win the best player award — selected by Flying Fijians mentor John McKee.
Radrodro's national 7s training squad teammate Savenaca Rawaca also had a grand game at outside centre.
Rawaca completed a wonderfully-worked backline move which involved inside centre Iliesa Ratuva, fullback Apisalome Waqatabu and Aporosa Tabulawaki to score the first try of the game just two minutes after the start of the game.
The Stallions who later scored two more tries to Naitasiri's two dedicated the win to someone special.
"This win is special because we want to dedicate it to the late father of Jiuta Lutumailagi who passed away during the week," said stand-in skipper Manoa Tamaya.
"Jiu (Lutumailagi) this victory is for you and your family.
"I also thank the players for their effort to successfully defend the Farebrother trophy."
Tamaya also commended Naitasiri for a tremendous effort.
"Naitasiri gave us a good game compared to the side we played last week."
Dreadlock Naitasiri flyer Nasoni Roko also thanked his troops for their effort.
"We wish Nadroga the very best in their remaining defence and we hope they will retain the title for another year," said Roko.
"I thank our boys for giving their hearts even though we fell short of our target."
Nadroga's three tries were scored by Rawaca, Vucago and Ratu Meli Kurisaru while fullback Apisalome Waqatabu added the extras.
Nippy flyalf Kini Douglas and inisde cetre Viliame Masiwawa scored a try each for Naitasiri with the rest of the points coming from the boots of Douglas.
Nadroga led 22-13 at the break.
The side faces Northland in its second defence at Lawaqa Park next weekend.
Nadroga: Nemani Camainakelo, Seru Cakobau, Setefano Samoca, Rupeni Nahiga, Manoa Tamaya, Etonia Naba, Sailosi Rabonaqica, Eremasi Radrodro, Emosi Vucago, Ratu Meli Kurisaru, Mitieli Nacagilevu, Iliesa Ratuva, Savenaca Rawaca, Aporosa Tabulawaki, Apisalome Waqatabu. Reserves: Apete Salawaqavuka, Eneri Lotawa, Ratu Penijamini Makutu, Jone Navori, Apisai Moimoi, Samu Laqai, Maikeli Toga, Tuba Batiratu.
Naitasiri: Mosese Ducivaki, Dan Ligairi, Mesake Doge, Necani Nawaqabau, Jeke baivatu, Senivalati Vunibola, Filimoni Seru, Seresio Vereivalu, Lote Raratabu, Kini Douglas, Nasoni Roko, Jonetani Vitau, Viliame Masiwawa, Ilisoni Tavaiqia,Sitiveni Vatuvoka. Reserves: Inia Toa, Josaia Qereqeretabua, Veresi Daku, Oveti Delana, Apenisa Natabua, Simeli Naivalu, Vatemo Muavesi, Waisale Levula.