BARLA Lions edge past West Fiji in thriller first tour match

Dave Parkinson

BARLA Lions came from behind to claim a 22-20 victory in their first game on tour.

The game kicked off with the mercury hitting thirty degrees and humidity also an issue, it was testing for everyone, however, the side stuck to their guns and emerged victorious thanks to a try five minutes from the end by York Acorn’s Reece Rushworth.

The Lions made the best possible start after just three minutes when the ball came down the right and Mark Tyson got around his man to score. Andy Hullock missed the conversion.

West Fiji roared in to action and made the most of a handling error when winger Veresa Tuqovu swept up and blazed 55 metres to the other end. Jona Varomusu couldn’t add the goal and the scores were locked after eight minutes.

And 15 minutes in, West Fiji struck again when a powerful run from big Luke Narara saw him cross the line with a couple of players hanging off him. This time Varomusu goaled to hand West a six-point lead.

After the drinks break, BARLA hurried their hosts and Tyson was rewarded with a second try after intercepting from 40 metres to claim his second score. Jamie Fields goaled to level up. Before half-time the Lions lost possession thirty metres form their own line. This was cleaned up by loose forward Esira Dokini who finished the try. Skipper Josateki Savou landed the goal to edge West ahead 16-10 at the interval.

West had a poor start to the second half when halfback Nasoni Naseru was sin-binned. Almost immediately, BARLA attacked and Thatto Heath man Jack Jones popped the ball out at the right time and Luke Tagg of Castleford Lock Lane touched down. Fields levelled the score and both teams had half chances before Rushworth finished the vital play five minutes from time and Fields added his third goal nudge the Lions ahead.

Despite late efforts from Fiji West, BARLA claimed the game by the narrowest of margins.

BARLA Lions: Postlethwaite, Hoban, Clark, Tyson, S Jones, Gibon, Hullock, Lea, Gambles, Gleeson, Rushworth, Tagg, Howdle. Subs: Henson, J Jones, Savage, Topkins, O’Brien, Jackson, Goulding, Fields, Chalkley.

West Fiji: Mulas, Nasau, Gaunavou, Ralulu, Tuqovu, Naseru, Varomusu, Savou, Bakanu, Qauqau, Tuamalevu, Gonebale, Dokoni. Subs: Kamunaga, Kurisamo, Camaitoga, Labala, Soronakavu, Narara, Kalou.