Fijian Drua beat Moana Pasifika 34-19 in a historic Super Rugby Pacific clash at CommBank Stadium in Western Sydney.
Both teams were looking for a second win of the Super Rugby season, but it was Fijian Drua who came out on top in this Pacific Islands battle.
Each of Fijian Drua’s Super Rugby Pacific wins has now come in Australia after a 31-26 victory against the Melbourne Rebels back in March.
Mick Byrne’s men also chalked up their highest SRP score of the 2022 season when they overtook their tally versus the Rebels.
Moana never really threatened Drua despite clawing back several three- and- two-score leads.
Aaron Mauger’s side fought back from 24-7 down to make it 24-19 after 58 minutes.
Apisalome Vota’s second score, with 10 minutes remaining, eventually broke the opposition’s resistance.
Vota bagged a brace on either side of the halftime break.
Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta and Vinaya Habosi also crossed for Fijian Drua.
Teti Tela landed two penalties and four conversions for 14 points.
Solomone Funaki, Abraham Pole, and Timoci Tavatavanawai dotted down for Moana Pasifika.
Lincoln McClutchie and William Havili each added a conversion.
This hard-fought victory ends an eight-game losing streak for the Fijians, while Moana’s woes continue.
Moana Pasifika, however, stays rooted to the foot of the Super Rugby Pacific table with one solitary win to show for their efforts.
A fast start sees Fijian Drua race into a 24-7 advantage, but Moana Pasifika fought back to cut the gap to 12 at the break
Cirikidaveta and Habosi got the hosts off to a great start, but Funaki pulled a score back.
Tela added a penalty to his two conversions before Vota increased the Fijian’s lead with a converted score.
A late surge by Moana, however, saw Pole crash over while Timoci Tavatavanawai had a score chalked off for a forward pass at the death.
The Fijian Drua raced into a 14-0 lead inside nine minutes as Moana Pasifika were caught flatfooted.
A one-two between number eight Cirikidaveta and inside centre Kalaveti Ravouvovu saw the Fijians open the scoring.
Two minutes later, ‘Fijian Flyer’ Habosi scooped up a loose pass and raced 70 metres down the righthand touchline to score under the posts.
Tela converted both, but Moana Pasifika hit back immediately to halve the deficit before the second quarter.
A couple of attacking lineouts gave Moana the perfect platform to strike.
Funaki broke down the blindside from a driving maul inside the Drua 22. The 28-year-old loose forward bounced Onisi Ratave before beating Tela to the line.
McClutchie added the extras.
The momentum changed with Funaki’s score, but Tela added a 25th-minute penalty from in front.
Havili went close, but got horse collared by Vota.
Solomone Kata almost powered over; however, he lost possession trying to score.
Another botched lineout killed a glorious opportunity for the tourists. Byrne’s men made them pay.
Tela’s pin-point chip-kick caught Moana flatfooted from the scrum. Vota chased and got his reward.
Havili beat Vota to the ball, but the fullback knocked the ball into Vota’s hands, and the centre ran away to score under the sticks.
Tela’s third conversion made it 24-7 after 33 minutes.
Moana’s maul began to fire as Fijian Drua forwards struggle in the tight phases
By now, the Fijian Drua were reeling as Moana’s maul began to cause havoc. Several penalties set up attacking opportunities inside the home team’s 22.
However, only one paid off for Mauger’s charges when Pole dotted down late in the half.
Moana had finally got their lineout drive right, and they bulldozed their way over the whitewash.
Pole peeled off the side to flop over the line. McClutchie could not convert.
Ratave beat Tavatavanawai to McClutchie’s kick-pass, but another penalty allowed the visitors to go to yet another lineout-maul.
Kata and Havili both sucked in the defenders before Havili sent Tavatavanawai away in the corner with a forward pass.
The TMO took a look and rightly ruled out the winger’s score.
Moana Pasifika pulled the deficit to five points going into the final quarter, but Vot’s second try wins the Pacific derby for Fijian Drua
Moana Pasifika continued to pile the pressure through their driving maul, which got them back into the contest.
A slowish start to the second half saw both teams struggle to handle the ball while racking up penalties.
Three minutes before the hour mark, Tavatavanawai finally got his try.
The 24-year-old winger beat Kitione Taliga’s unsuccessful attempt to claim Danny Toala’s pin-point crossfield kick.
His try cut the gap to five after Havili’s conversion.
Tela missed a chance soon afterwards with a missed penalty; however, his forwards won a scrum penalty to give the flyhalf another shot.
Tela, this time, made no mistake. His second goal opened up a two-score lead before Vota won the points when he powered through three defenders with 10 to play.
Ratave picked up a loose ball after the hooter and raced 60 metres to score.
The winger, however, had his score chalked off because of a push on Tima Fainga’anuku in the build-up. It did not matter.
Final Score: Drua 34 (24) Moana 19 (12)
Tries – Cirikidaveta, Habosi, Vota (2)
Pen – Tela (2)
Con – Tela (4)
Tries – Funaki, Pole, Tavatavanawai
Con – McClutchie, Havili
Referee: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 1: Graham Cooper
Assistant Ref 2: Matt Kellahan
TMO: Brett Cronan
Fijian Drua: 15 Kitione Taliga, 14 Onisi Ratave, 13 Apisalome Vota, 12 Kalaveti Ravouvovu, 11 Vinaya Habosi, 10 Teti Tela, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 7 Mesulame Dolokoto, 6 Meli Derenlagi (captain), 5 Viliame Rarasea, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Zuriel Togiatama, 1 Haereiti Hetet.
Replacements: 16 Tevita Ikanivere, 17 Kaliopasi Uluilakepa, 18 Samuela Tawake, 19 Chris Minimbi, 20 Nemani Nagusa, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Caleb Muntz, 23 Selestino Ravutaumada.
Moana Pasifika: 15 William Havili, 14 Tima Fainga’anuku, 13 Solomone Kata, 12 Danny Toala, 11 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 10 Lincoln McClutchie, 9 Ereatara Enari, 8 Henry Time-Stowers, 7 Solomone Funaki, 6 Sione Tu’ipulotu, 5 Alex McRobbie, 4 Michael Curry, 3 Sekope Kepu (captain), 2 Ray Niuia, 1 Abraham Pole.
Replacements: 16 Samiuela Moli, 17 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18 Joe ‘Apikotoa, 19 Veikoso Poloniati, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Christian Leali’ifano, 23 Henry Taefu.