High­landers Score Big Win

Fiji Sun - - Sport - JUS­TINE MAN­NAN Edited by Leone Cabenatabua Feed­back: jus­tine.man­nan@fi­jisun.com.fj

The Naitasiri rugby team recorded their high­est score line in the 2016 Skip­per Cup com­pe­ti­tion when they thrashed Tailevu 68-26 at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori yes­ter­day. The High­landers have booked a home semi­fi­nal where they take on de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Nadroga.

What hap­pened: Naitasiri dom­i­nated the first half with good ball con­trol as they ex­ploited Tailevu’s poor de­fence. Noa Sisiwa drew first blood in the third minute with a try and fol­lowed by a suc­cess­ful con­ver­sion from Eto­nia Roko­tu­i­sawa to lead 7-0. Tailevu who looked un­easy made ba­sic mis­takes cost­ing them pos­ses­sion. A break down in the ruck near Tailevu’s try line saw Naitasiri be­ing given a penalty try and an­other suc­cess­ful con­ver­sion from Roko­tu­i­sawa ex­tended their lead, 14-0. In the 14th minute, Pate­meo Boto went over to score an­other try for Naitasiri, 19-0. Roko­tu­i­sawa scored two tries in the 16th and 19th minute, suc­cess­fully con­vert­ing both to ex­tend their lead 33-0. In the 29th minute, Tailevu came back with three tries to Maika Baleina­toto, Kameli Ratu­vou and Sailosi Tale. A penalty kick and con­ver­sion from Baleina­toto closed the gap to 33-20 at half time.

Half time: Naitasiri 33-20 Tailevu

The sec­ond spell saw Tailevu set­tled down and gave Naitasiri a hard time and making them work harder to score tries. Naitasiri’s Sisiwa scored his sec­ond try with an ex­tra two points com­ing from Roko­tu­i­sawa’s boots, 40-20. Find­ing it hard to pen­e­trate the Naitasiri de­fence, Tailevu set­tled for any op­por­tu­nity to gain points as Baleina­toto put three points on the score board from a penalty, 40-23. Naitasiri dom­i­nated once again pow­er­ing their way down to the try line with two tries from Dan Li­gairi and Vil­imoni Seru with Roko­tu­i­sawa adding four points from his boot, 54-23.

Tailevu strug­gled to gain con­trol and make any play.

Tailevu’s Baleina­toto added an­other three points from a penalty kick, 54-26. With the clock tick­ing down, Roko­tu­i­sawa and Sisiwa got a hat trick each to end the game 6826. Big Play: Naitasiri were strong in de­fence and dom­i­nated for most of the game. Star turn: Roko­tu­i­sawa added 18 points from his boots and 15 points from three tries to a tally of 33. Comments Naitasiri coach Rev­erend Jioji Ri­nakama: “It was a good game and I am very happy with the way the boys played. “This will be a huge boost for us go­ing into the semi­fi­nals which will be re­ally tough. “They played to the game plan we set out for them and dom­i­nated most of the game which is what we want. “The com­pe­ti­tion has got­ten re­ally tough and we need to keep im­prov­ing in each game so from here we can only go up.” Tailevu coach Samisoni Baikeitoga: “De­spite the huge loss I am still proud of the boys and the way they played. “They stuck to the game plan and they have re­ally im­proved from the first game we played up un­til now. “We have all new play­ers and it has not only been about win­ning but about de­vel­op­ing our play­ers and I know in two years from now Tailevu will be a force to be reck­oned with if we keep im­prov­ing each sea­son and in ev­ery game.”

Photo: Jus­tine Man­nan

Naitasiri rugby play­ers cel­e­brate their big win at Ratu Cakobau Park yes­ter­day.

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