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By Ben Harrison
Heavyweight Waratahs’ newcomer Taqele Naiyaravoro has announced his rugby arrival with an impressive debut match for Parramatta, crossing for two tries in the Two Blues’ 35-24 loss to Eastwood at T.G Millner.
The Woodies’ win is their sixth in seven matches and sees them move top of the table, with just points difference separating them from second-placed Warringah. Manly (with a game in hand) sits third.
The flying Fijian also notched up countless line breaks, catching the eyes of spectators and the opposition captain Hugh Perrett.
“He’s a very powerful runner,” admitted Perrett. “Positionally he got caught out a few times but he is a wrecking ball, hard to contain.”
Returning to union for the first time since his schooldays in Fiji, Naiyaravoro admitted he’s still adjusting to the game after having just week to prepare for the switch from league. “I struggled a bit as I am still getting used to playing the full 80 minutes but I am excited that I pushed through and lasted.”
Growing up playing rugby union in Fiji, Naiyaravoro moved to Australia three years ago, when he took up a contract to play rugby league for the West Tigers. After being signed by the Tahs just last week, the Fijian cannonball wasted no time announcing his arrival, scoring two outstanding tries and showing plenty of promise is his newly-chosen code. Quick to compliment his team mates though, he responded, “I was just lucky to get the ball in good areas. Hats off to the boys, they did all the work, I just had to finish what they started.”
With little time to prepare, Naiyaravoro added, “Time wasn’t really on my side but they just told me to go out, enjoy the game and do what I do.”
Despite trailling at half-time, it was Eastwood who got the ball rolling, with scrumhalf Mick Snowden crossing close to the posts. Parramatta hit back moments later, with a barnstorming run from lock Even Olmstead. Both sides exchanged blows, with the lead changing a number of times, but it was the visitors Parramatta who went into the break with a slim 19-14 lead.
It was all the Woodies in the second half though, with three tries swinging the game in their favour and denting the confidence of their opponents, who could only manage a consolation try on the full-time siren, courtesy of Naiyaravoro and taking his tally for the day to two.
Praising his team’s efforts, Woodies’ skipper Perrett said, “We battled hard for that first 40 minutes and finally started to crack the line once we could stick our passes.
“Our big boys really got us over the advantage line today and helped us gain momentum. Our experience and calm-headedness in the tight stages, I think, really shone through and helped us get the competition points. It was a good finish I guess and we’ll carry those positives into next week.”
The Woodies will next week travel to Woollahra Oval to take on ninth-placed Easts.
Eastwood 35 (Nick Batger 2, Hugh Roach, Mick Snowden, Tom Hill tries; Pierre Hola 5 cons) d Parramatta 24 (Taqele Naiyaravoro 2, Evan Olmstead, Alex Samoa tries; Chris Nay 2 cons)
Warringah came from behind to secure a nail-biting 34-32 away win over Wests at Concord Oval. Three tries in the last 10 minutes saw the Rats snatch victory, their second this season over the Pirates and bag a four-try bonus-point to leapfrog Manly and rise to second on the table. There was some good news for the Pirates though, who welcomed back Alofa Alofa, after the prolific NSW winger recovered from injury.
Warringah 34 (David Feltscheer 2, Harry Jones, Boyd Killingworth, Luke Holmes tries; Hamish Angus 3 cons, pen) d West Harbour 32 (Rory Sidey 2, Alofa Alofa, Joel Brooks, Dave Harvey tries; Dave Harvey 2 cons, pen)
A late surge has helped the Beasties bag their second win of the season with a 35-30 win over Penrith. Despite trailing at the break, a strong second half performance secured the win and a bonus point, helping them rise two places to ninth in the overall table.
Eastern Suburbs 35 (Darcy Etrich 2, Will Paterson, Tala Gray, Billy Johnston tries; Brendan McKibbin 2 cons, Henry Hudson 2 pens) d Penrith 30 (Jerome McKenzie 2, Solomona Silipa, John Waititi tries; Robbie Mate 2 cons, 2 pens)
The Rebels have claimed a big scalp, beating the Wicks in the ABC TV’s match of the round. In a close encounter, a double from Denny Godinet helped the home side secure a bonus-point victory in a cracking match.
Southern Districts 30 (Denny Godinet 2, Ben Connolly, Chris O'Reilly tries;
Rohan Saifoloi 2 cons, 2 pens) d Randwick 22 (Sam Figg, Ethan Ford, Liam Windon tries; Liam Windon 2 cons, pen) at Coogee Oval.
Sydney University have backed up last week’s convincing victory with another big win, this time over Gordon. The Students were at their attacking best, outscoring the Highlanders by 46 points to seven to bag a bonus point and prove their capability, moving into the second half of the season.
Sydney University 46 (Tom Boidin, Daniel Kelly, Jack Macklin, Hugo Dessens, Dane McCarthy, Jeremy Tilse tries; Daniel Kelly 5 cons, 2 pens) d Gordon 7 (Terry Prestons try, con).
Sunday saw the final match of the round take place, with Manly notching up another maximum-points away win over Norths. The Marlins 26-5 win at North Sydney Oval was enough to see them regain top spot and extends their unbeaten run this season to seven matches.
Manly 26 (Harry Bergelin, Dane Chisholm, Dave Porecki, Ed Gower tries; Dane Chisholm 3 cons) d Northern Suburbs 5 (Cam Crawford try).
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