Fijian Drua brave the elements for strong win over Western Force, Blues thump Moana Pasifika at Eden Park

Fijian Drua brave the elements for strong win over Western Force 

The Fijian Drua have managed the horrific conditions to take a 31-13 victory over the Western Force in Laukota. 

There were puddles aplenty as it poured down with rain for the majority of the game. 

The hosts thrived in the wet, taking an 18-5 lead before a red card to Tevita Ikanivere presented a chance for the Force to strike. 

They hit back before the break, however, this is where the comeback halted as young flyhalf Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula steered the Drua home. 

He set up Iosefo Masi before a trio of penalties sealed the victory. 

The visitors scored the opening try in the second minute through hooker Tom Horton courtesy of a 15-metre rolling maul. 

But Fiji scored the next 18 points to wrestle control of the contest. 

Despite the slippery conditions, Drua played their usual running rugby, and it often paid big dividends. 

Winger Epeli Momo just made it in for a try with a diving effort in the corner after 12 minutes, and it was Fijian rugby at its best when they crossed again five minutes later. 

Instead of kicking for touch after being awarded a penalty, Drua halfback Frank Lomani caught the Force defence napping with a quick tap and break before dishing the ball off to winger Selestino Ravutaumada. 

Iosefo Masi Try from Round 6 of Super Rugby Pacific 2024 

Drua No.8 Elia Canakaivata received a yellow card in the 21st minute for a shoulder charge, but despite being down a man the hosts extended their lead with two penalties to race out to a 18-5 advantage. 

The Fijians’ hooker Tevita Ikanivere was handed a yellow card on the stroke of halftime, and this time the Force took advantage as winger Chase Tiatia went over in the corner to reduce the margin to 18-10 at the break. 

Ikanivere’s yellow card was upgraded to red during the break, reducing Drua to 14 men for the first 18 minutes of the second half. 

But once again Drua made a mockery of the numerical disadvantage, with five-eighth Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula dribbling a kick forward and centre Iosefo Masi racing onto it to touch down. 

It exemplified not only Drua’s skill, but also their smarts, with Armstrong-Ravula knowing the sodden pitch would slow down his kick enough to keep it in play. 

Two penalties to Armstrong-Ravula while his team were still down a man extended Drua’s lead out to 31-13 in the 57th minute. 

The Force hunted late for an answer but were stopped at every time by a rock solid Drua defence. 

Meanwhile,  Fijian Drua Head Coach Mick Byrne has praised scrumhalf Frank Lomani for achieving the milestone of playing 50 Super Rugby matches. 

Lomani played his 50th match on Saturday and helped the Drua beat Western Force 31-13 at Churchill Park. 

He was instrumental and set up the second try of the match with a quick tap and sent Selesitino Ravutaumada in the clear to score. 

The achievement was capped off with the Nukubalavu native from Savusavu also walking away with the Player of the Match award. 

“Frank is one the key players in the side. His work rate is high and shows a lot of maturity. He is  an awesome leader on and off the field,” said Byrne. 

“He guides the younger players and you see his abilities in the way he plays at every game.” “ 

Byrne said to have him run out onto the field with his child was truly special for the whole team and they are really proud of Lomani. 

“He has much more to offer to the team and we are happy to have a player of such caliber in the Drua set up.”

Blues thump Moana Pasifika at Eden Park

The Blues have dominated the Battle of Auckland with a 47-8 win over Moana Pasifika

It was a unique situation for the Blues as the ‘away team’ at Eden Park but they looked comfortable as they dismantled former coach Tana Umaga’s side. 

The onslaught started in the 12th minute when winger Mark Tele’a crossed before flyhalf Stephen Perofeta strolled over the line through some soft defence. 

The Blues continued to roll when Caleb Clarke sprinted away for their third try of the afternoon after Hoskins Sotutu broke the line. 

Bryce Heem made it three tries in 12 minutes as the hosts had little answer for their explosive attack. 

Sione Havili Talitui crossed just before the break to give Moana some hope before the Blues ran away with the game in the second half. 

It started in the 58th minute when scrum half Finlay Christie backed up a promising raid from Cole Forbes before Tele’a got his second. 

The winger capped off the win with his third as Sotutu put him over to seal the dominant win. 

It allows the Blues to leap into first place and ahead of the Chiefs after the loss to the previously winless Crusaders on Friday. 

They share the top with the Hurricanes, who will go past them with a bonus point defeat or win over the eighth place Highlanders. 

“We talked about the whole week that we can’t get complacent and we knew this game wasn’t going to be easy, a lot of our brothers we grew up playing with,” backrower Akira Ioane said on the game. 

“We are a team that likes to play a lot and sometimes that can be our downfall.” 

Moana Pasifika centre Julian Savea lamented the discipline after they missed 39 tackles. 

“We give the ball to these guys with the attacking power they have and you see what happens on the scoreboard,” he added.

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