Still on top
28 September, 2014, 12:00 am
The Lautoka rugby union side rose to the occasion and delivered the goods when it mattered most.
Inspired by the 11th hour omission of 13 key players, the Sugar City boys played their hearts out to defeat Naitasiri Northern Bulls 22-10 in the TFL-sponsored promotion relegation play-off at Lautoka’s Churchill Park yesterday.
The victory will see the Maroons retain its spot in the major division for the next season.
Head coach Sireli Bulicokocoko took his hat off for his gallant warriors for a marvellous performance in front of their diehard home fans.
Bulicokocoko said Lautoka was hungry for a win despite the drama off the field.
“We changed our line-up after 13 of our players named in the starting line-up were not allowed to play for technical reasons,” he said.
“The decision was handed one hour before kick-off so we had to search for some players in the extended training squad such as Kelemedi Bola to fill the vacuum.
“The incident inspired the boys to come out of their comfort zones and deliver the goods for the people of Lautoka.
“Basically we had to win the game and I could not ask for a better outcome after the final whistle.”
Bulicokocoko said the players were urged to win for the chiefs, business houses and the people of Lautoka.
“We had to win the game despite the off-the-field incident and we take our hats off to the boys for their brave effort.”
“Naitasiri gave us a good game and they showed us that they have earned their place as B-Division champion to reach this far.”
Former national 7s rep Vucago Bainitabua displayed a man-of-the-match performance scoring two of the Lautoka’s four tries.
The nippy Lautoka fullback also kicked a conversion to help his teammates retain their spot in the major division.
Standout performers were Bola, outside centre Sakiasi Tuqalu and tireless blindside flanker Maikeli Sivo.
Bulls, with the services of former national reps such as Lepani Nabuliwaqa, Mosese Luveitasau and Amani Bosenawai had themselves be blame for the loss.
The Highlanders committed series of unforced errors and poor decision-making that were capitalised by the hosts.
The Bulls though managed a consolation try in the dying stages of the game but not enough to fulfil their goal.