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Moana records first ever win, second loss for 'Saders

SATURDAY WRAP: The battle of the Pacific has gone the way of the Fijian Drua in the first two years of the teams’ involvement in Super Rugby Pacific, but Moana Pasifika was on a mission to change that at Super Round in Melbourne.

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Both sides’ defence made phase play a futile effort, and Moana got better pay from the kicking game early meaning better attacking opportunities and field position.

The first try came the way of Moana that generated some momentum around the ruck and Ere Enari found Sione Mafileo peeling around the corner to crash over for the game’s opening points.

The Drua’s Selestino Ravutaumada then collected the ball as the first receiver off a scrum on their own 22 line and sliced the Moana defence wide open, sprinting 50 metres before finding open side flank Elia Canakaivata screaming down the sideline, who finished the try like a wing.

The Drua had moments of promise in their brief time with the ball in hand but Moana Pasifika’s set piece was up to the task of managing the team’s clearances. The one time that set piece faltered it handed young Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula a shot at three points and the rookie tied the game at eight.

The fast-paced period came to a close with Ravutaumada making a cynical mistake by sticking his foot out to trip a player cashing a chip through.

Moana Pasifika exploited the one-man advantage through more strong field position, finding Inisi unmarked on the wing who scored a well-deserved try to put his side up 15-8 at the half.

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Moana kicked off the second period the way they finished the first, earning good field position with runs down the sideline before a perfectly weighted grubber from Nigel Ah Wong set Henry Taefu up for the try just a minute into the second half.

Three minutes later Moana were in again, acting as if they were up a man despite facing a deficit in reality. Ah Wong’s card was then upgraded to red as his side owned a 21-point lead.

Moana’s struggles were compounded when Sekope Kepu was sent to the bin for an offside tackle right on the try line.

The two-man advantage Fiji then enjoyed made the final 10 minutes of the game an exciting prospect given Moana’s 17-point lead.

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That lead was soon cut to 10 thanks to some smart ball movement and a superb conversion from the sidelines by Armstrong-Ravula.

Three points then separated the two teams with five minutes remaining.

The ambitious play only lasted two phases though before a loose ball was recovered by Moana who ended the game with a three-point lead, 39-36.

*The Crusaders had a shock 24-37 loss against the Waratahs in Super Rugby Pacific on Saturday, recording only their second defeat in a row in the competition in ten years.

It came down to the kickers as both teams scored four tries through Macca Springer, Sevu Reece (2) and Christian Lio-Willie for the Crusaders while Hugh Sinclair, Teddy Wilson, Triston Reilly and Jake Gordon dotted down for the Tahs.

Saturdays’ scores and scorers:

Moana Pasifika 39-36 Fijian Drua

For Moana Pasifika:
Tries: Mafileo, Inisi, Taefu, Moli, Pole
Cons: Havili 4
Pens: Havili, Lealiifano

For Fijian Drua:
Tries: Canakaivata 2, Ravutaumada, Momo, Ratuva
Cons: Ravula 4
Pens: Ravula

Teams:

Moana Pasifika: 15 Danny Toara, 14 Nigel Ah Wong, 13 Henry Taefu, 12 Julian Savea, 11 Viliami Fine, 10 William Havili, 9 Ere Enari, 8 Lotu Inisi, 7 Sione Havili Talitui (captain), 6 Jacob Norris, 5 Allan Craig, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Sione Mafielo, 2 Sama Malolo, 1 Abraham Pole
Replacements: 16 Samiuela Moli, 17 Sateki Latu, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Ola Tauelangi, 20 Irie Papuni, 21 Aisea Halo, 22 Christian Lealiifano, 23 Kyren Taumoefolau

Fijian Drua: 15 Isikeli Rabitu, 14 Epeli Momo, 13 Iosefo Masi, 12 Apisalome Vota, 11 Selestino Ravutaumada, 10 Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Meli Derenalagi (captain), 7 Ella Canakaivata, 6 Etonia Waqa, 5 Isoa Nasilasila, 4 Mesake Vocevoce, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Tevita Ikanivere, 1 Livai Natave
Replacements: 16 Mesulame Dolokoto, 1 Haereiti Hetet, 18 Jone Koroiduadua, 19 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 20 Vilive Miramira, 21 Simione Kuruvoli, 22 Kemu Valetini, 23 Junior Ratuva

Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Referees: Damon Murphy, Mike Winter

By Ned Lester

Crusaders 24-37 Waratahs

For Crusaders:
Tries: Springer, Reece 2, Lio-Willie
Cons: Kemara, Havili

For Waratahs:
Tries: Sinclair, Wilson, Reilly, Gordon
Cons: Edmed 4
Pens: Edmed 3

Teams:

Crusaders: 15 Chay Fihaki, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Levi Aumua, 12 David Havili, 11 Macca Springer, 10 Taha Kemara, 9 Noah Hotham, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Tom Christie, 6 Dominic Gardiner, 5 Quinten Strange, 4 Scott Barrett (captain), 3 Fletcher Newell, 2 George Bell, 1 George Bower
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Jamie Hannah, 20 Christian Lio-Willie, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Ryan Crotty, 23 Dallas McLeod

Waratahs: 15 Max Jorgensen, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Harry Wilson, 12 Joey Walton, 11 Dylan Pietsch, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Langi Gleeson, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Hugh Sinclair, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Mahe Vailanu, 1 Angus Bell
Replacements: 16 Julian Heaven, 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 18 Dan Botha, 19 Miles Amatosero, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Teddy Wilson, 22 Mosese Tuipulotu, 23 Triston Reilly

Referee: James Mabey
Assistant Referees: Brendon Pickerill, Dan Waenga

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