Brave Reds fall to Fijian flourish in Super Rugby Women’s, Moana Pasifika fight their way to victory over Western Force

PHOTO: Fijian Drua Facebook page

Brave Reds fall to Fijian flourish in Super Rugby Women’s

The brave Queensland Reds dug deep before bowing 32-21 to the two-time champions from Fiji when Buildcorp Super Rugby Women’s launched at Ballymore Stadium Sunday. 

An enthusiastic crowd roared for the plucky Reds when back-to-back fightback tries within five minutes closed the scores to 22-21 just past the hour mark. 

The Fijian Drua were bigger across the park yet it didn’t stop last-line defender Lori Cramer or winger Caitlin Urwin from chopping down attackers 15kg heavier on occasions. 

In the end, the Fijians were more clinical in finishing off their chances and it didn’t matter if it was from long range or a barging run over the top of a willing Reds defender. 

Winger Merewairita Neivosa’s second try with time almost up settled things. 

The day was a highlight for the six Reds players making debuts and none more so than 16-year-old Shalom Sauaso, still a Year 12 student at Ipswich State High School. 

Her entry to the game paid off after an ankle injury grounded impressive centre Mel Wilks. 

Sauaso stepped into first receiver off a scrum in the attacking 22. She powered onto the ball, cut inside, stepped and plunged over with three defenders in her wake at the 62-minute mark. 

Teammates engulfed her because it was a show of something special in her longer-than-expected debut in Super W. 

School friends and family in the grandstand wreathed her in lolly leis after the match, a show of celebration in Pasifika culture. 

Flanker Carola Kreis looked every bit the picture of a hard-working openside flanker with hair and strapping tape everywhere, a reddening tag mark on the thigh and spent from workrate. 

“We dug deep. We always knew what the Fijian girls would bring and there were plenty of smaller bodies making key tackles on bigger ones out there,” Reds captain Cecilia Smith said. 

“Lori’s chat from fullback was excellent and you always know she’s going to make her cover tackles. Caitlin too defended really well and there were plenty of others. 

“Overall, we just had to be more clinical in the attacking 22. We had to come away with more points from the chances we had. There is a lot we can take out of that performance to build on for our next game. 

“I told Shalom to get in there (as first receiver) to have a run. We know what she can bring with a hard carry and she did.” 

Flanker Jemma Bemrose played 80 minutes on debut. American prop Charli Jacoby, No.8 Doreen Narokete, reserve flanker Lucy Thorpe, reserve utility back Ava Wereta and Sauaso also made debuts. 

Wilks made several strong runs during her shortened stint, lock Deni Ross tackled stoutly and worked hard at set piece time and hooker Tiarna Molloy scored a try and supported the ball well in general play. 

Cramer produced an early 50-22 with her shrewd kicking game and halfback Sarah Dougherty kept up the accuracy of her pass for 80 minutes. 

The scrum was on the backfoot for long periods but the Reds still found a way to hang in the contest. The maul was a real strength and the penalty try awarded in the second half was because a Fijian pulled down an inevitable surge to the tryline. 

“There was a lot to like. We controlled the play for long periods, our maul was effective and we certainly put heart into our defence,” coach Grant Anderson said. 

“It’s great to be into the season, be back at Ballymore and see a debutant like Shalom be a shining light making a difference in attack.” 

Drua captain Karalaini Naisewa said her side’s ability to offload the football and constantly threaten the Reds’ line had stood out. 

Her side is searching for a three-peat, having been champions in their first two seasons in the competition. 

“Just our structure game, sticking to our structure and playing the Fijiana game – that is offloading and going forward,” she told Stan Sport. 

“Thank you to all the supporters back at home who have been cheering for us and supporting us all the way.” 

The Reds travel to Perth to play the Western Force in Round Two on Saturday. 

Fijian Drua 32 – Tries: Merewairita Neivosa 2, Ana Korovata, Vani Va’aga Arei, Sulita Waisega, Teresia Tinanivalu, Conversion: Luisa Tisolo 


Queensland Reds 21 – Tries: Tiarna Molloy, Shalom Sauaso, penalty try, Conversion: Lori Cramer 2 

Half-time: 10-7 Fijian Drua.


Moana Pasifika fight their way to victory over Western Force

Moana Pasifika have held on for a 22-14 win over the Western Force at HBF Park. 

It’s their first win over the WA-based franchise and their second of the season, improving on their tally from last year. 

Kyren Taumoefolau extended the lead shortly afterwards before the hosts tried to mount a comeback. 

However, they struggled for discipline and execution, allowing the visitors to claim the win. 

The Force were left to rue a series of missed opportunities early in the match. 

No.8 Will Harris appeared set to score in the ninth minute after nice build-up play from flyhalf Ben Donaldson. 

But instead of charging to the line, Harris dished off a somewhat wayward pass to Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, who dropped the ball while running at full pace. 

Two minutes later, Donaldson unleashed a clearly-forward pass to snuff out another golden chance for the Force. 

Moana hooker Sama Malolo opened the scoring in the 17th minute when he barged over for a try. 

But the Force produced some party tricks to get a try of their own four minutes later. 

Winger Chase Tiatia launched a chip kick as soon as he received the ball on the wing, and outside centre Bayley Kuenzle sprinted forward to collect the bouncing ball and race over. 

The Force entered the match determined to fix up their ill-discipline, but the penalty count read 6-0 against them by the 25-minute mark. 

Flanker Carlo Tizzano was yellow carded in the 32nd minute for a dangerous tackle that resulted in a clash of heads with Moana fullback Danny Toala. 

The visitors made the most of the numerical advantage, with former Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu barging over to give his team a 12-7 lead at half-time. 

The deficit would have been even bigger had another former Wallaby – Christian Leali’ifano – not missed an easy penalty and conversion attempt. 

Leali’ifano made up for those misses by playing a key role in Moana’s next try early in the second half. 

The 36-year-old sneaked into place to grab a long line-out, and he dished off a quick pass for winger Kyren Taumoefolau to run 50m untouched to the line, making it 19-7. 

The gap was closed back to five points in the 61st minute when Tizzano crossed from a rolling maul and Donaldson – after missing two easy penalties – nailed the conversion. 

But the Force’s victory hopes were sunk in the 72nd minute when substitute flyhalf William Havili nailed a 53m penalty, giving the visitors an eight-point buffer. 

The Western Force suffered a blow before kick-off when star Wallabies recruit Nic White was ruled out with knee swelling.

Chiefs bounce back with big win over Fijian Drua

The Chiefs rediscovered their attacking verve to outclass the Fijian Drua 46-29 on Saturday and climb to third place on the Super Rugby Pacific standings. 

Inspired by fly-half Damian McKenzie, the Chiefs scored six tries to four at home in Hamilton, pulling away in the second half after leading 24-17 at the interval. 

It was a disappointing result for the Drua, who were coming off an upset of the Crusaders in Lautoka and were competitive early on, crossing twice through midfield back Iosefo Masi in the first 22 minutes. 

Their intensity fell away against the Chiefs, whose sole loss in four rounds this season came last week, when they were stifled by the second-placed Queensland Reds. 

Chiefs captain Luke Jacobson was pleased his game-breaking backline could deliver a reminder of what they’re capable of. 

“There were probably a few stages there where we got a bit too loose with ball in hand but it’s awesome when we can get some of those plays to come off – it’s pretty nice to watch,” he said. 

Boshier’s tenth-minute try opened the Chiefs’ account after Masi sprinted away for the opener. 

He was followed over by scrumhalf Cortez Ratima and winger Daniel Rona, ensuring they went into the break with a seven-point lead. 

From here, the hosts kicked clear to secure the win. 

Winger Etene Nanai-Seturo crossed just after the break before Boshier’s second pushed the game out of reach for the Drua. 

They scored two late tries but fullback Shaun Stevenson sealed the win when he regathered his chip and chase with nine minutes to go to score. 

It lifts the Chiefs into third behind the Hurricanes and Queensland Reds whilst the Fijian Drua return home to prepare for the Waratahs. 

Flanker Kaylum Boshier crossed twice while McKenzie’s speed and awareness was at the heart of many attacking moments, complementing his 16 points with the boot