Friday 19th February –
With the Levuka 7s and Netball tournaments starting today we had a break from the project work as we loaded into the outboards and headed for Ovalau. The teams Nasauvuki had entered were named Think Pacific Koroloaloa, and so “TP” was everywhere as it was called out over the speakers and represented in force by the team and villagers! Will and Rob had been selected for the Moturiki squad, and so after arriving into Levuka town we all made our way straight to the ground to cheer on the guys. In the first match they came up against a very well drilled team from Levuka, losing 0-22, however spirits remained high heading into the afternoon pool game. Half of Moturiki had gathered at one corner of the pitch as the team took to the field for the second pool match, and the noise and cheering was huge.
Heading into the final minute of the match it was 5-5, and everyone could feel the tension and excitement building as Think Pacific Koroloaloa launched attack after attack. With just a minute to play the ball popped out the back of a ruck and Solo fed Mele out on the left touchline. Mele stepped one and was away down the wing, running into the corner where we were all shouting in support. As he came to the line the full back put in a last ditch tackle to force him into touch, but Mele held strong and dived over and, well, the celebrations erupted as myself, the team and the village ladies ran onto the pitch! With the final pool game tomorrow it was still all to play for, and we headed home this evening all smiles. The netball team, or Think Pacific Koroloaloa Netters, were also told today that they would play all their pool games tomorrow, and so it was to be an early start at 4am to get the ground nice and early!
Saturday 20th February –
For the netball team, which had Paskey, Ashleigh D, Immi, Fi, Hannah and Michelle in its ranks, the kids coming along and myself this morning it was an early morning adventure as we walked out to the boat in total darkness and weaved our way through the passage and reefs by torchlight…it’s those moments that you always remember! Arriving into town the team headed for the court, and then there was a waiting game to be played as no one seemed entirely sure of the timings of our matches. At one point the team warmed up, called a huddle and said their cheer, only to turn around to run on to find two teams already there waiting to play! But finally it was our time, and in the first game we just missed out, losing 1-3 in a match that on another day we would definitely have won.
With the second match in quick succession there was a chance to get a win and keep hopes of the quarter finals alive, but just as the team ran onto the court the heavens opened in spectacular fashion which did not make life easy. The team also found themselves up against “Globogym” (anyone who has seen Dodge Ball will understand) who eventually went on to win the whole tournament, and so there was absolutely no disgrace in the loss. The opposition even had a Fiji rep in their ranks, a Goal Attack who just never missed! The final pool game however was a good one, and the “Netters” got the win they deserved 7-5.
In the rugby it was all or nothing for the guys in the final pool game. Once again our corner of the ground was by far and away the noisiest, and playing against a side just across from us on Ovalau meant it was a bit of a local derby. The team on the day put in a top performance, and ran out winners 28-5, including two incredible drop goal conversions from the touchline by Saula. And so Think Pacific Koroloaloa marched on to the last 16, and what a game it was. After taking the lead early, and with the guys looking comfortable in defence, all was going to plan. Mele then put in a good, if ever so slightly late hit, on the opposition scrum half, and the ref deemed it worthy of a sin binning, and the opposition used the extra man to draw level with just a few moments to play. It was then a case of hanging on, and much to everyones’ relief the opposition 10 dropped the ball close to the line with the final play of the game. It was then into golden point extra time, and yet again indiscipline cost us, as another of our team was sent to the bin for a high tackle. (Although the player slipped as the tackle came in so it seemed a very harsh call) And so yet again we were holding on, with the guys totally out on their feet after 19 minutes of 7s.
As the clocked tick down we decided to take a quick tap in our 22, and after turning us over in the ruck the opposition spun it wide and dived over in the corner. A gutting way to bow out in a game that was there for the taking, and it meant we missed out on a chance to take on the Police who had looked formidable all weekend. Of course we all stayed on to watch the finals, and it was a fantastic end as the Police scored a try with the final play of the match to win 22-19 and take home the cup. The guys will now turn their attention to 15’s, with a potential match against Ulibau village just two weeks away!