Natabua have underlined themselves as the team to beat after they unseated reigning champions Marist 29-20, paving the way for a new champion of the coveted Vodafone Deans Trophy when they line up against Queen Victoria School in the U18 grand finale next weekend.
Flanker Samuela Navale who scored a try in Natabua’s 13-12 win over Lelean in the quarterfinals last week was back to his try-scoring ways, securing two in the first spell of their 4-try victory.
Coach Tevita Delailomaloma who was still to let the win “sink in” after the final hooter sounded acknowledged the school principal, parents, supporters, and old scholars for their unwavering support.
“Last week when we won, I told them there is no need for a celebration. We need to keep our feet on the ground. Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the school principal, secondly to the parents, supporters, old scholars who have been with us from day one,” he said.
The side is looking forward to next week certain that QVS will not be easy-beats.
Navale’s first try ensured Natabua took an early lead, converted by Viliame Nasau. Marist responded via a penalty in the 11th minute from returning scrumhalf Aisea Nawai, before Seremaaia Tuiqamea crossed for their first try three minutes later to claim the lead 8-7. What ensued after that was a seesaw battle with Natabua reciprocating with a penalty goal and a converted try from Charles Salikikoro and Navale respectively to reclaim the lead 17-8. Marist hit back with a converted try from Nawai, and with Charles Salikikoro’s accuracy secured Marist a 17-15 lead at half-time.
The second half continued in the same manner, Natabua’s Sailosi Natuwawa extending their advantage. Marist’s Peni Tuiloma fought back, but Natabua’s Raymond Navunikaba’s try sealed their 29-20 victory.
The grand finale will take place at the HFC Stadium.
Marist 20-29 Natabua (FT)
Vodafone Deans U18 SemiFinal 1
HFC Stadium, Suva
Saturday 19 August 2023
MARIST (1-15): Eroni Sarasau, Kelemete Ligairi, Neville Amputch, Ezekiel Hughes, Jerry Ravusoni, Samuel Manu, Peni Tuiloma, Alivereti Dere, Aisea Nawai, Lui Mainavatuiwai, Ravuama Latilevu, Seremaia Tuiqamea, Lario Nacola, Solomone Muakibau, Saula Rasaubale
Reserves: Tevita Qalobula Jnr, Filimoni Biulailai, Joseva Wakanivonoloa, Mesake Waqa, Lutunatabua Qumivutia, Noa Waqavakalele, Samisoni Veiqaravi, Joshua Waqainabete, Christian Taukei, Immanuel Taukei
Tries: Tuiqamea, Nawai, Tuiloma; Conversions: Mainavatuiwa; Pen Goals: Nawai
NATABUA (1-15): Viliame Raikiviti, Etonia Vulaono, Imanueli Penjueli, Sailosi Natuwawa, Iliesa Erenavula Paula Navakula, Samuela Navale, Asaeli Naivalu, Suliasi Lagi, Viliame Nasau, Mikaele Drotini, Fabiano Young, Rt Levani
Reserves: Seseoni Tamani, Abraham Wainiu, Phil Qativi, Robert Susau, Rt Emori Qareqare, Viliame Gaunavinaka, Rt Alipate Tabusakia, Viliame Baleivanualala, Maika Nalawa, Sunia Qera
Tries: Navale (2), Natuwawa, Navunikaba; Conversions: Nasau, Salikikoro (2); PEN GOAL: Salikikoro