Suva escapes Naitasiri fightback to claim close win

Suva backline on attack against Naitasiri in Skipper Cup Challenge at Suva Grammar ground yesterday.Picture:ATU RASEA

Suva escaped with a 23-20 victory over Naitasiri in a high-intensity Skipper Cup match at the Suva Grammar School grounds at Veiuto yesterday.

The physical encounter saw police officers escorting the match officials from the ground during the halftime break after heated verbal exchanges between them and officials from both teams.

Team officials were not happy with some decisions made during the match.

Meanwhile, Suva dominated the first spell to lead 13-8 at the break, the later spell belonged to Naitasiri as they closed the gap 21-20 towards the end.

The touring side’s hope diminished when Suva veteran and fullback Enele Malele slotted the final three points in the dying seconds of the match to see the final score 23-20 to the hosts.

An exchange of penalties from Malele and Naitasiri pin-point kicker Etonia Rokotuisawa were the match’s tale of the tape.

Malele slotted three penalties and two conversions while Rokotuisawa claimed 11 of Naitasiri’s points through one conversion and three penalties.

He missed a conversion during the first half when Kini Douglas registered their first score.

The hillmen’s second try was from a backline move that allowed Nadroga man Kaliova Mocetadra to score in the corner.

Suva played to the last whistle, but their work was done in the three quarters of the game with both wingers Kini Vosailagi and Inia Tawalo scoring a try each in each half.

Suva coach Sakaraia Labalaba said they knew Naitaisiri would speed up the game in the second spell.

“I thank the players for controlling the last quarter of the game when Naitaisiri made the technical changes. The boys held their fort,” Labalaba said.

“Stewart (John) is back with his usual best and guiding the backs with Tumeli (Kurisaru). They played well.”

Down but not out, Naitasiri coach Ilaitia Tuisese Jr said they lacked consistency.

“We lost in a good game,” Tuisese said.

“Very disappointing, but we’ll come back. In the next game, we will find a way to maintain our spot and play to be in the top four positions.

“The outcome of the game teaches us to maintain our discipline.”

He was not happy with some of the referee’s decisions.

“Everybody knows the rules. Some calls that were made were against us and also against Suva, but like I said, let’s play according to the rules.”

More Stories