Laqai helps Suva

Suva rugby team lock Tevita Naqali runs against the Naitasiri defence during their skipper cup match at the Naluwai grounds in Naitasiri yesterday. Suva defeated Naitasiri 29-21. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

POLICEMAN Manueli Laqai broke the hearts of hosts Naitasiri with a try in the 33rd minute as Suva made its presence known in the highlands to survive and win a brutal game 29-21 in their Skipper Cup competition at Naluwai, Naitasiri yesterday. The Jope Tuikabe-coached team now lead the table points with Nadroga losing to Namosi 26-17 at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka.

The visitors were on fire from the beginning of the game where Peni Matawalu scored a try in the 12th minute but Ratu Meli Kurisaru’s conversion was unsuccessful as they lead 5-0.

Naitasiri was given a penalty through an infringement from Suva for a high tackle as the highlanders centre Sakeo Railoa failed with his attempt at goal.

Former Northland captain Sireli Ledua, who now plays for Suva, took the opportunity and scored from a lineout throw in the 17th minute but Kurisaru failed the conversion as the Capital City side’s took a commanding 10-0 lead.

Kini Douglas of Naitasiri was given the opportunity to redeem the team but was unsuccessful. A try to Railoa with Jeke Suguturaga’s conversion closed the gap to 10-7.

Suva showcased a wonderful performance through Kurisaru, who passed the ball to Matawalu to score a converted try for a 17-7 lead at the breather.

Fiji Airways 7s player Teri Tamani came in and boosted the Suva team as the visitors wonderful drive saw Setareki Raoba score the bonus try.

Tamani failed to put in the conversion. Suva kept the 22-7 lead while Naitasiri came back with a try to Jeke Suguturaga and the conversion was successful to close the gap 22-14.

Laqai’s try was converted by Tamani before Apisalome Bogidrau scored a converted try for Naitasiri but it was too late. Suva team manager Ulaiasi Verevou said the players really did well.

“Despite some of the mistakes the team made, they stuck to the game plan,” he said.

“Two more games left and we are confident that we will come in successfully as we play Rewa next week. Now it’s back to the drawing board on Monday as we try and lift our performance to another level.”

In the other matches, Rewa defeated Nadi 24- 23 in a close match at Burebasaga District School ground in Rewa yesterday.

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