'It was unreal': Fijian Drua shock Crusaders in Super Rugby boilover
SUPER RUGBY SATURDAY WRAP: Fijian Drua recorded the biggest win of their two seasons in Super Rugby Pacific on Saturday with a stunning 25-24 upset of the reigning champion Crusaders in front of a passionate home crowd in Lautoka.
Debutant replacement flyhalf Kemu Valetini slotted the winning penalty from in front with 80 minutes already up on the clock after a topsy-turvy match played in stifling heat at Churchill Park.
The winning moment 🙌#DRUvCRU #SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/HkqSi3EnjI
— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) March 11, 2023
Hammered 61-3 by the 13-times Super Rugby champions in their only previous meeting in May last year, the Drua went 0-12 down early in the contest after the Crusaders scored two tries through rolling mauls.
They stormed back with unanswered tries from centre Iosefi Masi, fullback Ilaisa Droasese, flank Joseva Tamani and wing Eroni Sau to take a 22-12 lead with 13 minutes remaining.
The Crusaders rallied with a try from Fiji-born wing Sevu Reece and another from a rolling maul for replacement hooker Ioane Moananu, which flyhalf Fergus Burke converted from the touchline to put the visitors 24-22 ahead with seconds to go.
The New Zealanders knocked on from the ensuing kick-off to give the Drua another chance, however, and they worked calmly through several phases before the Crusaders were penalised to give Valetini the chance to secure a famous victory.
“It was unreal today [Saturday], it was epic,” said Drua captain Tevita Ikanivere.
“The boys came out in the second half firing and we did the job, we got the win. We had the belief we could do it and we came and defeated a great Crusaders team.
“And what better way to do it than in front of our home crowd.”
It was a second defeat in three matches this season for the sometimes slow-starting Crusaders.
“I guess that’s not what we wanted, but we got what we expected, that’s a tough Drua side playing at home,” said Crusaders captain Scott Barrett, who was playing his 100th Super Rugby match.
“We saw how dangerous they were, they capitalised with their skill, running play. Congratulations to the Drua on their win.”
The Brumbies have continued their unblemished start to the Super Rugby Pacific season with a 23-17 win against the Queensland Reds.
They looked in cruise control in skipping to a 13-0 lead after half an hour, but the Reds dug in with a far more competitive second half although they never hit the lead at GIO Stadium on Saturday night.
The Brumbies are now one of just two undefeated teams after three rounds, joining the Chiefs at 3-0 as they quickly assert themselves as one of the league’s top sides.
The Blues overcame a controversial try to Hurricanes fullback Josh Moorby to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Brumbies last week.
The Hurricanes fullback appeared to knock on in the act of scoring in the 50th minute, but referee Nic Berry was happy that he was always in control of the ball and awarded the five-pointer.
Jordie Barrett’s subsequent conversion drew the Hurricanes to within three points at 22-19, but the Blues – inspired by the outstanding Finlay Christie and Hoskins Sotutu – did just enough to close the game out despite a misfiring lineout.
The Hurricanes have suffered their first loss of the Super Rugby Pacific season, falling to the Blues in a 25-19 thriller in Wellington.
It was an arm-wrestle of a contest, with the Hurricanes launching a final attack right on fulltime. Down by six, the home side were unable to find their way across the tryline to clinch the win.
Former Hurricanes hero Beauden Barrett kicked the ball out to seal victory for the Auckland side.
Thirteen-man Western Force have scored a penalty after the final siren to secure a remarkable 21-18 win over Moana Pasifika at HBF Park.
Scores were level at 18-18 in Saturday night’s match when the Force had Ollie Callan red carded in the 73rd minute and Siosifa Amone also then sent off with a yellow three minutes later.
But instead of wilting under the numerical disadvantage, the Force pulled off a series of clutch plays at the death to secure the win in front of 6497 fans.
Scrumhalf Issak Fines won a crucial penalty at the breakdown to give the Force good field position, and although Bryce Hegarty’s 45-metre penalty attempt in the 79th minute missed, the home side kept pushing.
A smother from Tim Anstee put Moana under the pump and forced a knock-on error, and the Force won a scrum penalty after the final siren.
Hegarty nailed the penalty from eight metres away straight in front to secure the win.
The results and scorers:
Fijian Drua 25-24 Crusaders
For Fijian Drua:
Tries: Masi, Tamani, Sau, Droasese
Tries: MacDonald 2, Moananu, Reece
Cons: Burke 2
Fijian Drua: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Iosefo Masi, 12 Apisalome Vota, 11 Eroni Sau, 10 Teti Tela, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Elia Canakaivata, 7 Kitione Salawa, 6 Joseva Tamani, 5 Leone Rotuisolia, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 3 Jone Koroidaudua, 2 Tevita Ikanivere (captain), 1 Meli Tuni.
Replacements: 16 Mesulame Dolokoto, 17 Emosi Tuqiri, 18 Samuela Tawake, 19 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 20 Meli Derenalagi, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Kemu Valetini, 23 Kalavati Ravouvou.
Crusaders: 15 Chay Fihaki, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 David Havili, 11 Macca Springer, 10 Fergus Burke, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Christian Lio-Willie, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Sione Havili-Talitui, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Tamaiti Williams, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 George Bower.
Replacements: 16 Ioane Moananu, 17 Kershawl Sykes-Martin, 18 Seb Calder, 19 Zach Gallagher, 20 Corey Kellow, 21 Noah Hotham, 22 Taha Kemara, 23 Dallas McLeod.
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant referees: Angus Mabey, Marcus Playle
TMO: Glenn Newman
Brumbies 23-17 Reds
Tries: White, Lonergan
Cons: Lolesio 2
Pens: Lolesio 3
Tries: Wilson, Petaia (2)
Brumbies: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Ollie Sapsford, 11 Corey Toole, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Rory Scott, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Nick Frost, 3 Rhys Van Nek, 2 Lachlan Lonergan, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Blake Schoupp, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Luke Reimer, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Ben O’Donnell
Reds: 15 Jordan Petaia, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11Filipo Daugunu, 10 Tom Lynagh, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright, 5 Seru Uru, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Zane Nonggorr, 2 Matt Faessler, 1 Dane Zander
Replacements: 16 Richie Asiata, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Peni Ravai, 19 Connor Vest, 20 Jake Upfield, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 James O’Connor, 23 Jock Campbell
Assistant referees: Jono Bredin, Fraser Hannon
Referee: James Doleman
Blues 25-19 Hurricanes
Tries: Lomax, Rayasi, Moorby
Cons: Barrett 2
Tries: Tuipulotu, Clarke, Sotutu
Cons: Perofeta 2
Pens: Perofeta 2
Hurricanes: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Iosefo Masi, 12 Apisalome Vota, 11 Eroni Sau, 10 Teti Tela, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Elia Canakaivata, 7 Kitione Salawa, 6 Joseva Tamani, 5 Leone Rotuisolia, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 3 Jone Koroiduadua, 2 Tevita Ikanivere (captain), 1 Meli Tuni
Replacements: Mesulame Dolokoto, Emosi Tuqiri, Samuela Tawake, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Meli Derenalagi, Peni Matawalu, Kemu Valetini, Kalaveti Ravouvou
Blues: 15 Chay Fihaki, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 David Havili, 11 Macca Springer, 10 Fergus Blake, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Christian Lio-Willie, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Sione Havili Talitui, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett (capatain), 3 Tamaiti Williams, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 George Bower,
Replacements: Ioane Moannu, Kershawl Sykes-Martin, Seb Calder, Zach Gallagher, Corey Kellow, Noah Hotham, Taha Kemara, Dallas McLeod
Assistant referees: Angus Mabey, Marcus Playle
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Western Force 21-18 Moana Pasifica
Tries: Fainga’a, Poolman
Pens: Hegarty 2
Tries: Inisi, Moli
Pens: McClutchie 3
Force: 15 Chase Tiatia, 14 Manasa Mataele, 13 Bayley Kuenzle, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, 7 Ollie Callan, 6 Tim Anstee, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Felix Kalapu, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Tom Horton, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Siosifa Amone, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Jackson Pugh, 21 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22 Nikilao Foliaki, 23 George Poolman
Moana: 15 William Havili, 14 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 13 Fine Inisi, 12 Danny Toala, 11 Anzelo Tuitavuki, 10 Lincoln McClutchie, 9 Ereatara Enari, 8 Lotu Inisi, 7 Solomone Funaki (captain), 6 Miracle Faiilagi, 5 Mike McKee, 4 Alex McRobbie, 3 Suetena Asomua, 2 Samiuela Moli, 1 Abraham Pole
Replacements: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18 Isi Tu’ungafasi, 19 Potu Leavasa, 20 Jonah Mau’u, 21 Manu Paea, 22 Henry Taefu, 23 Levi Aumua
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper, Jordan Kaminski
Referee: Jordan Way