30 August, 2015, 12:00 am
BLK Nadroga Stallions survived a tough challenge from traditional rival Jacks Nadi to successfully defend the HFC Bank Farebrother Challenge 2015 trophy 26-23 at Lawaqa Park yesterday.
The Stallions dominated the first spell and commanded the score line as they led 23-5 before losing concentration in the second spell.
This enabled Nadi to dictate terms by scoring 18 unanswered points until flyer Apisalome Waqatabu broke the hearts of Nadi players and fans when he nailed in a 35 metre winning penalty after the two sides were locked 23-all in the last quarter.
The game was evenly contested as players from both teams played their hearts out in a nail-biting encounter fighting for the prestigious silverware.
The Nadroga loose forwards of captain Nemani Nagusa, Eremasi Radrodro and Apisai Moimoi were well-contained by their Nadi counterparts in Aminiasi Nava, Jiuta Takubu and livewire openside flanker Meli Rokoua.
But it was Nadroga fullback Tikilaci Vuibau who stole the show scoring 13 points from his boot that helped the Stallions to retain the title.
Vuibau’s tactical kicking and high ball kicks backed by the strong Lawaqa breeze, caused havoc in the Nadi team pressurising them to commit unforced errors thus allowed the Stallions to capitalise.
The Mokani, Tailevu, native stood his ground well for Nadroga’s last line of defence and his powerful kick enabled him to win the player of the match.
Nadroga started the game on a high note scoring two tries in the first spell through Eremasi Radrodro and Apisalome Waqatabu both converted by Vuibau together with three penalties to lead the scoreboard 23-8 at halftime.
The visitors bounced back in the second spell with Tuivucu kicking six points before lock forward Lote Nasiga sprinted 35 metres and stepped inside Nadroga replacement fullback Mitieli Nacagilevu to score.
Nadi’s third try was scored by captain Nava after he collected a well-timed pass from Takubu at the base of the scrum to dive over.
Captain courageous Nemani Nagusa said the win was hard fought and commended Nadi for their gutsy challenge.
“We know that Nadi was the top points scorer in the Skipper Cup and that is the reason we want to first play them,” he said.
“We know they will be tough and we thanked the Almighty Lord for guiding us.
“This win is special for Nadro and we want to share this success with our fans.”
Nadi captain Jeff Tamata congratulated Nadroga for the win and thanked his players for their mighty effort.
“We gave Nadro a good run for their money and I thank the boys for that.”
Nadroga will face Vatukoula in the second Farebrother Challenge game next week.