Drua sails to historic quarter-final in wet Suva

June 4, 2023 8:00 am

[Source: Super Rugby Pacific/ Facebook]

Thousands of Fijians witnessed history yesterday as the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua qualified to its first ever Shop N Save Super Rugby Pacific quarter-final.

In just its second season into the competition, the Drua gave fans a win to remember in wet, rainy and cold conditions, beating the Queensland Reds with a bonus point 41-17 at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva.

Captain Meli Derenalagi was just lost for words after the final whistle.

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“I can’t say how happy we are right now but hats off to the soldiers behind for carrying out the duty.”

Reds coach Brad Thorn says they didn’t click in the second spell.

“I’m really disappointed with that second half, the Fijian Drua did really well, played really good footy and brought a lot of pressure.”

The Mick Byrne-coached side just needed a win for this match after the Blues beat the Highlanders 16-9 while the Brumbies defeated Rebels 33-17 last night.

This gives the hosts a clear passage irrespective of the Force and Chiefs game result.

The Drua showed its intentions of winning early in the match when flyer Selestino Ravutaumada charged down a Filipo Daugunu kick just meters from the tryline to score.

Caleb Muntz added the two points as Fiji led 7-nil five minutes into the match.

The Reds answered two minutes later from a set-piece, exploiting the Drua’s weakness in containing a rolling maul as Ryan Smith went over.

James O’Connor kept his cool despite a loud crowd to level the scores.

The Drua went ahead again in the 17th minute from a well-worked phase of play inside the Reds 22.

They spread the ball wide sensing the overlap on the left and robust centre turned winger Kalaveti Ravouvou went over at the corner.

It was tit-for-tat rugby as the Reds responded in similar fashion to their first try, this time with Fraser McReight sneaking through.

A penalty later saw the visitors lead 17-12 after 28 minutes of action.

A missed penalty by Frank Lomani could’ve narrowed the scores but they made up for it minutes later when Vilive Miramira collected a loose ball from an Iosefo Masi chip.

Scores were locked 17-all at the break.

It was an explosive start to the second half as the Drua took the lead with a converted penalty by Lomani.

Things went from bad to worse for the Reds as try-scorer McReight was shown a yellow card for a cynical foul as the Drua build relentless pressure.

After being disallowed a try in the 49th when the referee ruled it as held up , the Drua eventually found their way over the line through the experienced Flying Fijians prop, Mesake Doge.

The home side led 27-17 with less than 30 minutes to play.

Jubilation sparked in Laucala Bay when Tevita Ikanivere pounced on an overthrown line-out to extend Fiji’s lead with a five pointer.

Lomani nailed the conversion as the Reds trailed by more than two converted tries.

It was a dramatic last 20 as the Drua could have piled more points, however substitute Etonia Waqa was disallowed a try due to obstruction.

The results were put beyond doubt with less than 10 on the clock as the departing Joseva Tamani burst through from halfway for a runaway try which was converted by Kemu Valetini.