Fijian Drua steal it late in opposition to Moana Pasifika in thrilling Tremendous Rugby Pacific opener

At Mount Sensible Stadium, Auckland: Fijian Drua 36 (Tevita Ikanivere 2 tries 20min, 45min, Joseva Tamani strive 28min, Iosefo Masi 2 tries 36min, 58min, Taniela Rakuro strive 77min; Teti Tela 2 con; Caleb Muntz con), Moana Pasifika 34 (Abraham Pole 2 tries 2min, 50min, Chris Apoua strive 8min, Mike Curry strive 24min, Danny Toala strive 39min; Christian Lealiifano pen, 3 con). Ht: 19-26.

Yellow card: Sam Slade (Moana) 26min.

It was Pacific Islands rugby at its greatest at Mount Sensible Stadium on Saturday afternoon, and it was fittingly determined by a stunning strive on the loss of life because the Fijian Drua outlasted Moana Pasifika in a furiously entertaining slugfest.

There have been 11 tries all informed in a splendid, fast-paced encounter, with the Drua’s sixth rating, within the 77th minute to alternative wing Taniela Rakuro, deciding a contest, 36-34, that actually might have gone both approach. It wasn’t excellent rugby – too many errors and infringements for that – however it was a delight to observe as each groups threw all the things into it and performed very a lot to their strengths.


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For Aaron Mauger’s Moana facet that was very a lot up entrance, with the house facet dominating the ahead arm-wrestle, and getting a brace of tries from prop Abraham Pole and one other from fellow front-rower Chris Apoua. Additionally they thrived with some excellent energy working from centre Levi Aumua and wing Timoci Tavatavanawai.

However the Drua had been by no means out of the competition with their explosiveness and strikepower out large, they usually loved sturdy performances from skipper and hooker Tevita Ikanivere, unfastened forwards Joseva Tamani and Kitione Salawa and backline stars Iosefo Masi, Tuidraki Samusamuvodre and Selestino Ravutaumada.

Hannah Peters/Getty Photographs Kalaveti Ravouvou carries laborious for the Fijian Drua in Saturday’s Tremendous Rugby Pacific opener in opposition to Moana Pasifika.

It was laborious to imagine that these had been the underside two groups of 2022, such was the standard of the competition and the array of expertise on present. On this, you’ll take both evenly this yr at your peril.

Mauger’s males bought off to an explosive begin, crossing for a strive apiece to beginning props Pole and Apoua inside the primary 10 minutes for the early 12-0 lead. Each got here on the again of standout runs by backs, Aumua for the opener and Fijian wing Timoci Tavatavanawai for the second.

However in a half that performed out at a frantic tempo, the motion continued to return thick and quick. The Drua bought on the board on the finish of the opening quarter when skipper Tevita Ikanivere drove over after a collection of tapped penalties, and unfastened ahead Mike Curry replied for the house facet quickly after to get them out to 19-5.

The Drua then struck twice to punish their hosts for a yellow card to lock Sam Slade, Joseva Tomani (off a fast faucet) and Olympic sevens gold medallist Masi (from a superb transfer off lineout, with Tomani laying on the help) crossing to stage the scores at 19-19 within the shadow of the break.

Moana, although, weren’t finished, second 5 Danny Toala punishing the Drua for a dealing with error when he danced 30-odd metres down the correct touchline for a seven-pointer that gave the house facet the 26-19 halftime lead.

The competition continued to surge backwards and forwards over the second 40, Ikanivere’s early second rating answered by Pole’s, earlier than Masi accomplished his brace to stage the scores at 31-31. Skipper Christian Lealiifano then put Moana again in entrance (34-31) with the one penalty shot of the match earlier than the Drua produced the razzle-dazzle to clinch the victory, Salawa and Samusamuvodre breaking down the left contact, and Ravutaumada laying on the magic to place Rakuro in for the winner.

Hannah Peters/Getty Photographs Christian Lealiifano of Moana Pasifika makes a break throughout the conflict in opposition to Fijian Drua at Mount Sensible Stadium.

Huge second

Doubtless the 77th-minute attempt to alternative wing Rakuro that gave the Drua the lead for the primary time. It featured some fabulous open-field working and was a deserved match-winner.

Match ranking

8/10: What was to not love. Certain there have been a fw too many penalties, and some too many dealing with errors. However for a spherical 1 contest between the underside two sides of ‘22, this was a extremely entertaining, surging contest with an exciting end.

Hannah Peters/Getty Photographs Iosefo Masi impressed on his debut for Fijian Drua, scoring two tries.


Tokyo Olympics sevens gold medallist Masi has a superb debut for the Drua, bagging a double to only shade his skipper Tevita Ikanivere who did likewise.

The large image

It’s week one, so in all probability greatest to not learn an excessive amount of into what this implies when it comes to the competitors. However one factor we will be positive of – this fast-paced recreation that the brand new regulation variations encourage fits each of those groups to a tee.

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