CAPTION: The victorious Nadi side after their win again Namosi at Prince Charles Park. Photo: MARGARET NAQIRI.
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By EMOSI LASAQA
A last minute penalty goal to replacement fullback Vecisemani Ratubalavu has earned Jacks of Fiji Nadi a thrilling 22-20 win over Namosi in the fifth round of the Digicel Park at Prince Charles Park.
The Jetsetters trailed 8-10 at the break but fought back to notch their much-needed win after a shock loss to Vatukoula last week.
Ratubalavu was the undoubted hero not only landing three pressure penalties but also for pushing the visitors back with his big boots every time the visitors threatened the Nadi line of defense.
Namosi with Lepani Botia in the inside center was gunning for a major upset. From his first touch- Botia’s left Nadi’s first five eight Kavekini Varo gasping for thin air from a straight run.
Varo who came back after receiving some treatment failed to land two early penalties but successful in the third attempt in the 14th minute to give them an early lead.
Namosi replied with a penalty from flyhalf Takima Semesa in the 18 minutes to level the score.
A try by prop Delai Robert in the 25th minute gave Nadi the lead. The conversion by Varo, surprisingly sailed out wide.
Nadi lost their Captain Kelepi Ketedromo with a knee injury in the 36th minute and Namosi’s scrumhalf scored a try in the 38 minute with a successful conversion. To give them a 10-8 lead at the break.
Namosi came firing in the second half and their hardwork was awarded with a try to winger Naikaseu Leo in the 19th minute to extend their lead 17-8.
It was in the 52nd minute when Nadi introduced Ratubalavu and the 20-year-old showed his kicking prowess by landing a penalty in the 54th minute.
He failed with his second in the 57th minute but managed to land a difficult kick in the 61st minute.
A try by winger Vosikata Sunia in the 70th minute was all Nadi had been waiting for as numerous attacks by the visitors was well contained before Vatubalavu sealed the game with a 35 meter penalty in the 79th minute to the rapturous applause of the Nadi fans and officials.
Namosi Coach Timoci Wainiqolo said his players failed to execute their game plan which was to use the midfield combination of Botia and Jone Vota.
“We came here to play Nadi- we started well but the boys failed to play wide as planned. We will rest now for July before we play Tailevu, Suva, Northland and Ovalau. I thank the boys for the game today.”
Nadi coach Iliesa Tanivula also praised his troops for winning the game in such tight situation.
“Hard-luck to Namosi for not winning the game and the boys showed a lot of guts to come back with a win after a disappointing loss to Vatukoula last week,” he said.