Super Rugby Pacific: Quick start wins it for Fijian Drua

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Drua’s Isoa Nasilasila charges forward against the Rebels at the HFC Stadium yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

The Swire Shipping Fijian Drua’s first half flamboyant performance was enough to see them register a 38-28 win against the Melbourne Rebels during the 2023 Shop N Save Super Rugby Pacific season at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva yesterday afternoon.

The Drua had the front foot from the first whistle and had a start to remember, scoring five tries in the first spell.

Star halfback Frank Lomani was ruled out from the playing squad after suffering an injury.

Peni Matawalu started at halfback and played a grand game with his quick deliveries.

It was fullback Ilaisa Droasese who opened the scoring with a try in the first few minutes.

Winger Selestino Ravutamada also had a game to remember.

He broke through the Melbourne Rebels defence and scored their second try.

Vilive Miramira crossed over while centre Iosefo Masi continued with his tryscoring run.

Kitione Salawa got the fifth and final try for the Drua in the first spell as they led 33-7 at halftime.

The Melbourne Rebels came out of the blocks stronger when the second spell resumed.

The side, led by veteran Reece Hodge at centre, scored four second half tries to Alex Mafi, Andrew Kellaway, Carter Gordon, Pone Fa’amausili.

All tries were converted by Hodge.

The Fijian Drua had a number of handling errors in the second spell but did manage to get a try of their own through substitute Elia Canakaivata.

Fijian Drua coach Mick Byrne said his players played good rugby today.

“I think there have been times when after matches we have sat down and talked about a few line breaks or tackles but in this game, I think all 15 players lived up to their roles,” he said.

“It was a good performance all around and am just so glad to come out with a win. We will enjoy the win the good part is that we have a bye week and that will give us good recovery time before our next game.”

Melbourne Rebels coach Kevin Foote said while they has come prepared to face the Fijian Drua, playing in Fiji was not easy.

“The fans, the music, the atmosphere is totally different. Our team slowly adjusted in the second spell but the damage was already done in the first,” Foote said

.”We played well against the Reds last week and we just could not match up to that performance this week. I must say the Fijian Drua played well today but hats off to my team as well for a gallant performance in this atmosphere.”

The Drua now have three wins this season so far from six matches.

Meanwhile, Masi was named the player of the match.

The Fijian Drua are on a bye next week and will face the Brumbies at 9.35pm on April 14.

Teams

(1-15) Fijian Drua: Emosi Tuqiri, Tevita Ikanivere, Jone Tiko, Isoa Nasilasila, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Viilive Miramira, Kitione Salawa, Meli Derenalagi(c), Peni Matawalu, Teti Tela, Eroni Sau, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Iosefo Masi, Selestino Ravutaumada, Ilaisa Droasese

Rebels: Matt Gibbon, Alex Mafi, Sam Talakai, Tuaina Tualima, Josh Canham, Josh Kemeny, Brad Wilkin(c), Vaiolini Ekuasi, Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Monty Ioane, Stacey Ili, Reece Hodge, Lachlan Anderson, Joe Pincus

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