Although they didn’t qualify for the finals round, the Pacific super rugby teams played the last games of their maiden seasons with passion and excitement last weekend.
Moana Pasifika defied the odds to claim a historical victory over the ACT Brumbies 32 – 22 at Mt Smart Stadium, whilst the Fijian Drua came close to derailing the Waikato Chiefs 35 – 34 in Lautoka.
The victory of the Moana Pasifika was a unique occasion because they were a man down for the most part of the encounter, losing their influential Captain Sekope Kepu just nine minutes into the game.
However, the boys from Canberra failed to capitalise on that huge advantage and just could not find their rhythm – the Brumbies looked to be shell shocked in the entire game.
Christian Leali’ifano, who recently reached 1001 points for Super Rugby, was on fire for the Moana Pasifika, dictating play from the backline and slotting in much needed points from conversions and penalties.
The work in the forward pack was tremendous as they were able to muscle up. Moana Pasifika scored three emphatic tries and led 19 – 7 at halftime.
The Brumbies utilised their driving maul to score another try and a strong carry by no.8, Pete Samu, inched them closer on the scoreboard – but it was not enough as too many wasted opportunities and handling errors had cost the game for them.
In the end, Moana Pasifika sealed the win with another try in the 75th minute giving them something to celebrate as they finish their first season.
Over in Lautoka, the Fijian Drua put on a sensational show of pure Fijian rugby skills that had rugby enthusiasts around the Pacific on the edge of their seats, but it was a little too late to overcome a strong Waikato Chiefs outing.
The Chiefs got right into the action from the get-go, scoring two early converted tries in the space of 20 minutes to lead 14 – 0.
Drua scored with a try to Apisalome Vota in the 30th minute, but the Chiefs quickly responded with a try to winger Emoni Narawa, whose dancing feet have seen him turn in top performances this season. The Chiefs led 27 – 7 at halftime.
The Chiefs continued their charge in the second half with two early tries – one of which was an automatic 7-pointer from a penalty try due to a scrum infringement.
However, just when things were going right for the Chiefs, the Drua started to mount one last surge, ten minutes from the final whistle.
Roared on by the crowd, the Drua refused to be denied. They hit back first with a magnificent counter-attacking try to Kalaveti Ravouvou and added another five minutes later from Apisalome Vota.
The stadium erupted when replacement prop Timoci Sauvoli scored under the posts with a minute on the clock and the conversion cut the Chiefs lead to a single point – however it was just too little too late.
The Super Rugby competition will continue this week as the qualifying top 8 teams battle it out for the top honors.