Rugby: Daveta boys in seventh heaven

Above: Daveta on the attack against the Cougars in the Ablitt Cup final. Left: Tanglin Trust School lifting the Sithawalla Cup for the fifth straight year.
Daveta on the attack against the Cougars in the Ablitt Cup final.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Above: Daveta on the attack against the Cougars in the Ablitt Cup final. Left: Tanglin Trust School lifting the Sithawalla Cup for the fifth straight year.
Tanglin Trust School lifting the Sithawalla Cup for the fifth straight year.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Fit Fijians capitalise on Aussie opponents' shortcomings; Tanglin Trust win U-19 title

Daveta captain Veniona Vuki has visited Singapore twice for the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) International Rugby Sevens and the Fijian's experiences have been dramatic to say the least.

Last year, Vuki and his teammates suffered a heartbreaking extra-time defeat by the France Development Team in the Ablitt Cup final.

On Saturday, he lost a tooth in a ruck during a 14-7 Pool B win over Palmyra.

After skippering Daveta to a 12-5 quarter-final victory over SCC and a 52-0 thumping of Stanislas Sevens in the semi-finals, Vuki suffered another setback in the final. He was banished to the bench for two minutes against Australia's Casuarina Cougars at the Padang after receiving a dubious yellow card for foul play in a rainy first half.

"But the sun shines on the righteous. After the upset last year and all that has happened this year, this win feels so sweet," said the 27-year-old prop, after leading his team to a 24-17 win and a post-victory Fijian hymn of celebration.

The wet weather failed to rain on Daveta's parade as they made a blistering start from the first minute, with Leveni Tani scoring a try after just 43 seconds.

SHOWERS OF BLESSINGS

I told them that this rain will bring us glory and happiness. We are prepared for all kinds of weather so we also sang a song before we went out to play.

VENIONA VUKI, Daveta captain, whose team went one better than last year when they lost in the final in extra time.

The centre would go on to score another and pick up the Player of the Tournament gong, while team-mates Josevata Malimoce and Aseri Vatuinaruku contributed one try apiece for their seventh title.

Vuki said: "I told them that this rain will bring us glory and happiness. We are prepared for all kinds of weather so we also sang a song before we went out to play.

"We worked on our fitness but also focused on our opponents' weakness. They did not play the ball fast and wide, and that made defending easier for us.

"Finally, there is something for me to be happy about here and I hope to be back next year to defend the Ablitt Cup."

The Cougars can hold their heads up high too, after tries by Jamie Kotz, Ben Johnston and Adam Field made it a respectable scoreline against the superior victors.

Cougars coach Daniel Seden did not elaborate on the reasons but revealed only eight players travelled to Singapore for the tournament, with another reserve arriving only yesterday.

He added: "Going all the way to the final is a big achievement in itself, with all the last-minute pull-outs. We dug deep and persevered in adversity against a quality team well-known in the sevens circuit."

Earlier in the day, in the other finals, Palmyra shut out Tamariva 17-0 for the Shield, Cottesloe beat Hong Kong Dragons 24-12 for the Plate, and Kurumi defeated the SCC Barbarians 24-12 for the Bowl.

In the Schools and Colleges category, Tanglin Trust School extended their dominance in the Under-19 Sithawalla Cup by beating United World College (Dover) 15-7, retaining the title their seniors have won since 2014.

Fraser Liang scored two tries and Toby White grabbed the other and even though they failed to convert for extra points, the three tries were enough to extend their domination.

Tanglin captain Kit Sorgo said: "We held our own even though we are smaller, and the chemistry of having seven of us play together for four years showed as we did the simple things right.

"We dropped just one or two balls in the entire game and were able to get the ball out wide to our fast guys, who did superbly to score.

"Tanglin have a proud tradition in this competition and we didn't want to be the guys who broke the streak and I'm happy our hard work paid off today."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2018, with the headline 'Daveta boys in seventh heaven'. Print Edition | Subscribe