Battle of the forwards as scrum a worry for Nadroga in challenge

Setefano Somoca, front left, with teammates prepare for a scrum against Suva on Saturday at the ANZ Stadium. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

If there is something the Namosi and Nadroga rugby sides will have to work on before they meet in this weekend’s double header, it’s their front rows and scrum.

Namosi will host Nadroga in a repeat of the Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy challenge and Skipper Cup clash this weekend.

They faced each other in the first round of the Skipper Cup, a double header clash where Namosi claimed the match and took the challenge trophy from the Stallions at the Lawaqa Park.

The two sides’ strengths are in the backline which was witnessed in their clashes against Skipper Cup points leader Suva and their past games after the completion of the first round.

Veteran Nadroga prop Setefano Somoca said they had been trying to work out a formidable front row combination which can compete, especially in the scrums.

“We’ve been testing all our players and different combinations especially in the forwards and the backline as we try to get the right set for the Farebrother challenge,” he said.

“We have a lot of young players and getting them to experience the Skipper Cup with the senior players is part of our plan.

“That is why we are being tested in every match as we try to get into the right rhythm before the challenge,” said Somoca.

Against Suva last week Nadroga was not as strong as the young Capital City side’s forward pack.

In the first-half alone with the leadership of props Manasa Saulo and Mateo Qolisese, and livewire hooker Lino Vasuinadi, Suva was dominant in the scrum against veteran props Somoca, Timoci Sauvoli and hooker Meli Neori.

In Nadroga’s 22-32 defeat at the ANZ Stadium last weekend, in eight scrums in the first half, three were for the Stallions’s throw in, five were against them. They lost all because they collapsed all the scrums (8).

One of Suva’s tries through skipper James Brown was from a scrum pushover for about five metres until the tryline.

At the half-time break, even though Nadroga was given the same treatment as the first-half, they were able to quicken the supply of the ball to Manu Ratuniyarawa, who was playing at lock in the first spell, but was shifted to do the number eight role.

Nadroga will likely bring in Ratunaisa Navuma, Mosese Gavidi, Apete Salawaqavuka, and Taniela Vatunicoko to bolster its bid against Namosi, which has props Atunaisa Maiono, Alivereti Rabukawaqa and hooker Seru Cakobau to be played against Tailevu last week and Jone Naqiri, Peni Tupou, Aseri Robarobalevu, Lekima Banuve and Alifereti Rabukawaqa in its rank, who have been part of its campaign and the side is likely to bring in its number one set to face Nadroga.

A fortnight ago Namosi was given the same treatment by Suva. At Ratu Cakobau Park on Saturday, Tailevu held Namosi in the scrums. The Nadroga v Namosi double header match will be held on Saturday at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori.

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