Back in history | Untidy at the lines | National jumpers fail to impress selectors

Kolo Rakoroi wins the lineout during the Eastern trials at the National Stadium. Picture: FILE/ARIN CHANDRA

If there was anything lacking at the 1984 East rugby trials at the National Stadium in Suva, it was the failure of the jumpers in the lineouts to take clean two-handed catches.

An article in The Fiji Times on March 11 that year said there were attempts by national reps Koli Rakoroi and Lewis Politini, but they were not as clean as they should have been.

Uncontrolled tapping back to the halfbacks was rife throughout the two-hour trials.

This did not give the men behind the scrums and lineouts the best chance to provide efficient service to those outside them. Individual effort was the rule of the day.

Nevertheless, the standard of the rugby played in the two hours was above expectation.

New sevens caps to Hong Kong, Peni Rauluni, was never allowed an inch to run as fellow Suva player, Ilaitia Musunamasi, brought him down using copy-book tackles.

Likewise, as the trial continued, Rauluni did the same thing to Musunamasi and to two other opponents. Sani Tagivetaua and Isimeli Nabati were the two outstanding second five-eighths of the trials.

Until he retired to the grandstand, Acura Niuqila was undoubtedly the best first five-eight.

Natewa’s Pio Tubui did come up well later in the trial, when he was moved from second five to first five. Paula Nawalu was the best halfback of the day with quick service from the base of the scrums and lineouts.

Fellow St John Marist club player Ilisoni Vakatalai, who made a comeback, certainly made an impression with his excellent service. Rewa’s Fabiano Vakadranu was expected to force himself back into the national team after a great display.

He was sound at fullback for the Red team and later the selectors played him at first five-eighth where he fared rather well.

Nasinu’s Meli Nasau was often flat-footed at first five, four times he had to run back to take the passes from halfback Vakatalai, thus slowing down the pace of the attacks of the three-quarters. Severo Koroduadua left no doubt about his kicking and his ability to link up with his inside backs.

Tuimasi Tubananitu made a number of good drives early in the trial; this was repeated by Sairusi Naituku who was now a prop instead of being a loose forward.

Livai Kididromo played well as a lock and did not allow Politini to dominate the line-outs from his number two jumping position.

Esala Teleni backed up well throughout and as a result, scored two tries himself.

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