Valetini boots Drua to victory in pulsating clash

March 23, 2024 5:02 pm

Replacement center Kemu Valetini was the hero for the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua as he kicked a drop goal during golden point, to beat the Waratahs 39-36 in their Shop N Save Super Rugby Pacific match.

This is also the first time the Drua have beaten the Tahs and it’s a match that fans will never forget.

Both teams showed class and physicality during the pulsating clash at Churchill Park.

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In-form center Iosefo Masi got a hatrick in the first half and halfback Frank Lomani also crossed the chalk to cancel the earlier try by the visitors through hooker Mahe Vailanu as the Drua led 26-10.

The Waratahs’ woes were compounded when Mark Nawaqanitawase was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, leaving them a man down heading into the break.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, the visitors came out firing in the second spell as flanker Charlie Gamble burrowed his way past the Drua defence for their second try in the 48th minute.

But the Fijian outfit hit straight back to get their 5th try through hooker Tevita Ikanivere as they extended their lead to 33-17.

The visitors cut the deficit again as inside centre Joey Walton got their third try in the 57th minute to trail 24-33.

Two minutes later, Drua were awarded a penalty in the Waratahs half and Drua flyer Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula stepped up to nail a 45m long kick as they kept the score board ticking.

The Drua were reduced to 14 players with replacement flanker Kitione Salawa getting a yellow card on their 22m line.

The Waratahs opted to kick out and got the reward as Vailanu got his second try of the game from a rolling maul to narrow the scores to 36-29.

The Waratahs then levelled the scores as backrower Lachlan Swinton sneaked in for a try with Edmed nailing the conversion.

Both teams tried to get a match winner but couldn’t as the game went into golden point before Valetini nailed the winning drop kick from the 22-metre line to seal the memorable win, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.