Cuvu College shoulders west schools hope

CUVU College under-18 goes into today’s Powerade Super Deans Rugby Championship final with nothing to lose and everything to gain against schools’ rugby powerhouse Ratu Kadavulevu School.

The Nadroga-based school carries the hope of all western teams big and small including the provincial champions Nadroga who have failed to win a trophy since 2003, having lost to Naitasiri for the Farebrother title last week and the week before lost the final of the Skipper Cup to Suva.

Even though they were seeded second in the western pool, having lost to Ratu Navula College, Cuvu College is expected to come out firing and it will not only be a battle on the field but the strategists off the ground would have had sleepless nights trying to map out a winning game plan.

For the world champion Lodoni, they have their champion coach Nacanieli Saumi and his coaching team, having proved themselves in producing the best rugby schools rugby ever witnessed so far.

The swift passing from side to side have seen his side thrash top schools with 46-0 against Nasinu in the quarter-final and 35-5 against Ratu Navula College in the semi-final.

Another massive score awaits Cuvu College if they do not lift their game to another dimension by holding the Lodoni scrum and executing try-scoring opportunities when they appear.

Their defence has been solid and this will need to be for the full duration of the match.

Frenchmen Frank Boivert and Tiko Matawalu are the rugby thinkers behind the Cuvu College side and they have progressed from quarters, semi-final last year and to the finals this year.

Rugby is a game of many options and as they say there are many ways to skin a cat.

RKS are flying high but they are not unstoppable.

They improved their handling skills from their win against Nasinu Secondary School where they fumbled around 20 passes to less than ten last week against a tougher Ratu Navula.

How many they fumble this week is crucial.

They could afford this in the past matches because they often immediately won back possession through their powerful scrummaging.

Cuvu pushed Marist Brothers High School back in the scrums and that is where the heart of the Deans battle will be decided.

Halfback Jone Vatuwaliwali has been the lynchpin in attacks and with local referees in provincial level and schools turning a blind eye over offsides and halfback protection behind breakdowns could change the tide of how the game goes.

Even in recent Test matches players trying to stop a halfback from passing were penalised and the player yellow-carded but the responsibility also falls on teammates to form a buffer zone to protect halfbacks.

There’s a fine line decision to be made there but the whole purpose of modern rugby law changes are to promote free-flowing running rugby and again it depends on the referee on how he applies his interpretation consistently.

The number eight battle between Cuvu’s Eveni Tuituba and RKS Alivereti Loaloa will be interesting and the number seven jumpers clash between the Cuvu skipper and his RKS counterpart.

For RKS their top openside flanker Ilikimi Torosi was injured in the quarter-final and could be back in the final.

He is the son of assistant Nadroga coach Samu Vunaki, better known as Veva in his playing heydays for the Stallions.

While RKS stars outside centre Solo Naiduki and fullback Josua Koro did not score last week they could steal the show again if attention goes to their speedy wingers, Rukua, Beqa man Osea Natoga and Paula Tuinaserau. Natoga scored three and the Ra speedster scored two.

For Cuvu they have big and fast wingers that have to be tackled early.

Last week Cuvu’s Coca-Cola Games athlete and medallist Taitusi Lulusini scored a sizzling try.

RKS winger Natoga is the greatgrandson of Master Joji Momo, one of the famous Lodoni teachers and discipline enforcers of the sixties, seventies and eighties many former scholars owe their successful careers to.

Yours Truly was at the receiving end of a punch on the jaw in one his metalwork classes in the first term of Year 7.

But when I later conveyed my dad’s regards to him as they were in the same champion Nasinu Teachers College team of the forties and fifties, we became best friends for the whole six years at Lodoni.

Natoga’s definitely a chip of the old block and his second try scored, after a tackle by Ratu Navula star Osea Waqaninavatu, was a gem.

Ratu Navula was hit hard by the unfortunate shocking accident and deaths of their supporters and it was a tragedy that is felt by everybody that no words can express.

RKS fans cannot really gauge the strength of Cuvu as they should be fitter and much improved since their win over Marist and more inspired to perform above their best.
One thing is definite though — it would be a thrilling Deans final nobody would want to miss.