The Fijian Drua desperate to make the top 8

Photo: Queensland Reds

It was another good day out for the Fijian Drua at home this weekend with a win keeping them in contention for the top 8.

Straight from the kick-off, the Drua made their intentions clear to the visiting Queensland Reds.

“We wanted to start well and full credit to the players. When they came out, they were just going fast. That’s what we wanted to do, play fast and get across the game line and ask lots of questions early in the game,” said coach Mick Byrne.

Openside flanker Kitione Salawa gave a masterclass in the number 7 jersey, winning a couple of crucial turnovers, especially when the Reds were brewing up a strong comeback.

Salawa scored the first try for the Drua.

Salestino Ravutaumada was at his scintillating best, making significant line-breaks and chasing down the aerial bombs. He was superb in defence too and is quickly becoming a world class player.

Tevita Ikanivere was also tremendous, showing grit and mental fortitude in leading his young Drua pack, as well as scoring the team’s second try.

Number 8 Elia Canakaivata also put on a massive shift for the Drua. His tackles were solid and spot on!

For the visitors, Fraser McReight played well, winning a few turnovers.

While at one stage the Reds managed to make two quick tries to be just a point behind, a late penalty in the 40th minute of the first half saw golden boot Kemueli Valetini slotting in a kick from the 50-metre line, which extended the Drua’s lead to 18 – 14 at half time.

In the second half, the Queensland Reds did not yield, making strong surges towards the Drua line, finally scoring a try from a well-executed driving maul. But it was too little, too late.

Isaiah Armstrong Ravula kicked the last points of the game bringing the scores to 28 – 19.

Bryne was happy with his team’s efforts in defence. “I thought the boys came out there especially in the middle of that second half and showed what we can do when we keep our mindset around our defence. We keep getting off the line and making good tackles led by the skipper, and we got two or three forced turnovers, which was really good.”

When asked about his two tries, the captain humbly credited his teammates, saying: “It was the team’s tries. We worked well, kept the ball, built the phases and I was just there at the right time to score those points. So good effort from the team.”

Coach Byrne shared some key takeaways as they look forward to their next game.

“Our lineouts defense was great. We scrummed well. We carried well. Our ‘D’ today at times today was as good as we’ve done during the year. We just need to have that mindset at the start of the game and go after the game like we did.”

The Fijian Drua will play the Otago Highlanders next Sunday in Dunedin at 2.05pm (Fiji time).