The Fiji Times

What a refreshing start!

- ■ FRED WESLEY

CALL it whatever you want to, but yesterday’s opening round of the Fiji Rugby Union’s Skipper Cup competitio­n finally ended close to four months of ‘no rugby’.

For fans, kick-off time was not fast enough. It couldn’t come early enough.

You could tell how much fans missed rugby. You could see it in their faces at all venues of the opening round of games.

You could see it in their response during the matches. You could feel it in the atmosphere.

In fact when all things are said and done, there was certainly a great sense of relief all round.

It was wonderful to finally be part of the magical atmosphere that goes hand in hand with rugby matches.

There is friendly rivalry that has become a sort of trademark of these matches. There are special moments that leave an indelible impression on the minds of fans, and make the sport an exciting weekend affair for many.

Special attention though was reserved for the doublehead­er at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka.

Nadroga eventually sealed victory in a fiercely contested encounter against Suva.

Trailing the men from the Capital City until the dying minutes, the Stallions won 15-13 to keep their grip on the coveted Farebrothe­r Sullivan Trophy.

Suva, defending champions of the Skipper Cup, started off their campaign on a low note, at least on the scorecards.

However, their intensity and commitment in general play would have inched out interest among fans of the game.

It actually made for an entertaini­ng clash yesterday. It was Suva all the way until the final three minutes of play when Nadroga played from their 22-metre line with more than 10 phases of play.

Nadroga team captain Rupeni Nasiga said faith moved mountains and that same faith within the team enabled them to achieve their goal.

Suva skipper John Stewart accepted defeat and said his side lost concentrat­ion in the dying minutes of the game.

He acknowledg­ed Nadroga for the win, and said they had come in prepared for a spirited effort from the hosts.

It was clear though how much the opening games meant for both the fans and the players.

As Stewart remarked post-match: “It was exciting.” That was after the long forced lay-off.

There is no doubt about the fact that fans will now be looking forward to the next round of games as fitness levels rise. Namosi will be up next to challenge the Farebrothe­r Sullivan trophy next weekend.

We say what a refreshing weekend it has been!

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