Tailevu’s win in boots

HFC Bank Farebrother challenger Tebara Bus Tailevu will be expected to once again depend heavily on their reliable kickers to take them past BLK Nadroga this Saturday at Lawaqa Park.

Last year, it was the boot of first-five Amani Bosenawai that gave them victory over holders Naitasiri in a close 16-14 win in injury time after Naitasiri led 14-13 throughout the entire period.

But Tailevu, however, have over the years managed to come up with match-winning kickers and even veteran James Vuli returned with his kicking boots in that memorable challenge under heavy rainy condition.

In 2012, Tailevu’s first-five Sunia Bainivalu scored a try, kicked four penalties and two conversions when Nadroga took the first challenge to Prince Charles Park in Nadi and won 43-26

Last year Naitasiri had Waisea Luveniyali who helped the highlanders wrest the coveted trophy from Suva with his kicking.

It was seen, the sharing of the kicking tee by Vuli and Bosenawai out-foxed Luveniyali.

And in the defence against Nadroga, the kicking duties was exclusively done by Jaoji Dakuvula and he is the man every Tailevu fan will be putting their money on to achieve the desired result at Lawaqa.

He is expected to pit his kicking skills against the boots of men like Mitieli Nacgilevu and Jiuta Lutumailagi who last week returned to action by kicking his club Tovolea over Seabreeze in the Top 16 final.

Ratunaisa Vatuinaruku have also been doing the kicking for Nadroga in the Skipper Cup competition.

Former Suva and Sukuna Bowl matchwinner Isoa Donaldson played last week for Nadroga against Northern Bulls and his kicking boots have not been needed so far to win games.

Dakuvula was on target in that 2013 defence and kicked 17 points from five penalties.

They led Nadroga 22-19 with minutes to go and Jonetani Ralulu banged home a penalty for a 22-22 score and Savenaca Rawaca powered over the tryline to score the winner with a 27-22 victory.

One of the deciding factors of that game was the solo try made by Samisoni Viriviri when he used the wind to kick a high ball deep into the Tailevu territory and then outran their (Tailevu’s) sleeping defence to score the try.

One factor that Tailevu needs to be aware of is the quick balls that the defenders play and there’s no such thing as a breather in between play and even if challengers last the 80 minute span with lapse of concentration to win the hosts’ game.

The $2000 and new set of jumpers which is part of the HFC Bank sponsorship treat for challengers will boost the preparation and ensure spectators a great rugby match.

But the swirling wind at Lawaqa Park has frustrated many kickers including Nadroga’s very own who have had mixed results in the past challenges.

Dakuvula also knows very well the type of obstacle he will face at Lawaqa having played for Navosa, Suva and now Tailevu on the same ground in past challenges.

The Savusavu-born fullback has played one Test for Fiji kicking seven points from two conversions and a penalty in Fiji’s 22-8 win over Japan in 2011.

Dakuvula and another former Flying Fijian Iliesa Keresoni have been training with the Tailevu side to prepare for the HFC Bank Farebrother Trophy challenge for the past couple of weeks.

Season campaigners such as Jale Sassen, Jim Temo, Isei Ravulo, former Fiji under-20 scrumhalf Seru Cavuilati, Anare Sovanivalu, Jo Matasau, Aminisitai Niukula and Samu Bainivalu have all been training well.

Tailevu forward play is one of the country’s best style of play and they keep the ball for long periods of time which at times eventually forces opposition into errors.

Buses, vans and carriers will travel down the Queen’s Highway flying the green Tailevu flags down to Lawaqa this Saturday.

Chanting their war cry of “Push Tailevu” they will hope to reverse the result of last year and bring back what they believe is also theirs.