NSW Waratahs beat Fijian Drua 14-38 to complete a Super Rugby Pacific double at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, Queensland.
The Waratahs ended an eight-match losing streak away from home to complete a rare Super Rugby double going back to 2019.
Darren Coleman’s improving side beat Mick Byrne’s exciting team 40-10 in round one of the new southern hemisphere competition back in February.
Both teams have come a long way since. The South Sea Islanders, however, have only managed a solitary win, despite a few defeats within five points.
NSW scored three tries in each half as they punished the wayward Fijians to move up the tournament standings.
Dylan Pietsch, Charlie Gamble, Dave Porecki, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, and Mark Nawaqanitawase all scored for New South Wales.
Tane Edmed landed four from six conversions for eight points. The 21-year-old standoff assisted Holloway’s try, and he and the lock combined for Hooper’s second-half five-for.
Vinaya Habosi and Rusiate Nasove added tries in each half for the Fijians. Teti Tela converted both scores to bring up 50 Super Rugby Pacific points.
Nemani Nagusa (red) and Frank Lomani (yellow) were both carded on either side of halftime: their ill-discipline proved costly to the tune of 31 points.
Nagusa’s sending off saw the opposition score 17 unanswered points. Lomani, who had been living on the edge all game, cost his side two goals.
The Waratahs, with the help of Nagusa’s red card, took a three tries-to-one 17-7 halftime lead over Fijian Drua
Pietsch, Gamble, and Porecki crossed in the first period to give the Sydney side a 10-point lead.
Speedster Vinaya Habosi scored for the Fijians. Edmed and Tela each converted to level at 7-all.
Pietsch, with his first start on the left wing, scored his maiden Super Rugby try froma powerful driving maul.
Alex Newsome, at fullback, put in a deft grubber for Pietsch to chase, toe forward, gather and score.
Seven minutes later, Mesulame Dolokoto tackled Porecki, who dropped the ball in the contact.
Tela gathered, charged forward before putting Habosi away. The winger beat Will Harris and Nawaqanitawase to the corner.
The game, however, turned before the half-hour when Drua captain Nagusa was sent off for a clothesline tackle on Edmed.
The skipper’s reckless challenge – one of many by him and his teammates – saw the Australians score twice before the break.
New South Wales asserted their forward dominance with two driving maul scores.
At the second attempt at a driving maul after kicking to the corner, the Tahs got their reward. Gamble crashed over from the well-oiled set piece. Edmed missed from the touchline.
Moreover, with three minutes remaining, and the Fijians running out of steam, the Waratahs put together a 22-phase attack. Then the dam wall burst.
Another driving maul did for the island forwards, they were bulldozed back over their line again.
This time, Porecki got up with the ball for his fourth Super Rugby Pacific try of the season.
Newsome, taking over while Edmed was off for an HIA, could not convert.
More ill-discipline hampered Fijian Drua as NSW Waratahs add three more scores to run out comfortable winners on the Gold Coast
The second half started as the first ended. Lomani, warned twice already for high tackles, was sent to the naughty step by referee Reuben Keane.
From the resulting penalty, the Tahs set up another driving maul; however, this time Fijian Drua defended well.
The Waratahs went wide to Edmed, who played in Holloway on the run. The lock burst through, carrying three defenders over with him to make it 7-22.
Edmed, back on kicking duties, added the extras.
He and Holloway were again involved in their team’s next score. They combined with a deft pass-and-move to put the returning Hooper away for a 28th Super Rugby try.
The flyhalf made no mistake as the Aussies increased the lead to 24 points after 53 minutes.
Byrne’s men, back to a full quota, went 11 phases after the kick-off to score through Nasove.
It was his first touch after coming on, Tela added the extras.
Early in the last quarter, Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco broke off the back of an attacking scrum.
The number eight dragged the defenders and put Nawaqanitawase in the corner for his eighth SR five-pointer. Edmed made no mistake.
A couple of late flourishes from both sides came to nothing.
Final Score: Fijian Drua 14 (7) Waratahs 38 (17)
Tries – Habosi, Nasove
Con – Tela (2)
Cards – Nagusa (Red, 27′), Lomani (Yellow, 43′)
Tries – Pietsch, Gamble, Porecki, Holloway, Hooper, Nawaqanitawase
Con – Edmed (4)
Referee: Reuben Keane
Assistant Ref 1: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan Way
TMO: Brett Cronan
Drua: 15 Kitione Ratu, 14 Tuidraki Samusamuvodre, 13 Kalaveti Ravouvou, 12 Caleb Muntz, 11 Vinaya Habosi, 10 Teti Tela, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Nemani Nagusa (captain), 7 Kitione Salawa, 6 Joseva Tamani, 5 Sorovakatini Tuifagalele, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 3 Samuela Tawake, 2 Mesulame Dolokoto, 1 Kaliopasi Uluilakepa.
Replacements: 16 Tevita Ikanivere, 17 Haereiti Hetet, 18 Manasa Saulo, 19 Viliame Rarasea, 20 Vilive Miramira, 21 Rusiate Nasove, 22 Peni Matawalu, 23 Napolioni Bolaca.
Waratahs: 15 Alex Newsome, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Dylan Pietsch, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Jack Grant, 8 Will Harris, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Hugh Sinclair, 5 Geoffrey Cridge, 4 Jed Holloway (captain), 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 David Porecki, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Tom Horton, 17 Te Tera Faulkner, 18 Archer Holz, 19 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, 20 Michael Hooper, 21 Teddy Wilson, 22 Jamie Roberts, 23 Triston Reilly.