Super Rugby

Super Rugby Pacific: Waratahs beat Fijian Drua in opener

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The NSW Waratahs beat Fijian Drua 40-10 in a fiery encounter to open Super Rugby Pacific 2022 with a comfortable win at CommBank Stadium, Parramatta.

The Waratahs began the new era of Super Rugby with a dominant five tries to one bonus-point victory in a wet Western Sydney against an inexperienced and outmatched Fijian Drua.

The win ends the Tahs’ humiliating 13-match losing streak in Super Rugby (second-longest in tournament history) stretching back 488 days to August 2020.

Will Harris, Dave Porecki, Lalakai Foketi, Angus Bell, and Jake Gordon all dotted down for New South Wales.


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Nemani Nagusa’s second-half try gave Drua their only five-pointer of the game.

Harris and Porecki crossed in the first half as the Waratahs took a 21-3 lead.

Donaldson added three penalties and a conversion, while Baden Kerr’s only goal put his side on the scoreboard.

But Foketi, Bell, and Gordon all scored in the third quarter as the Aussies brought up the forty-burger.

The three tries settled the contest as Drua succumbed to the clinical Australians. Donaldson converted twice.

The standoff notched a match haul of 15 points with the boot.

Super Rugby Pacific Round 1 Video Highlights: NSW Waratahs vs Fijian Drua, CommBank Stadium, Parramatta

Despite the 30-point defeat, the Fijians never allowed Darren Coleman’s men to run away with the game.

Mick Byrne’s charges did not concede any points from the 57th minute while dotting down themselves; they probably should have had more but for sloppy handling and dogged Waratahs’ defending.

Captain and number eight Nagusa made history when he crashed over 15 minutes from the end to score the franchise’s first-ever Super Rugby try.

In all, this was an eye-opener for the South Sea Islanders, because it will only get tougher.

Fast start sees the home team take a commanding halftime lead into the shed as visitors struggle with discipline and handling

A disastrous few seasons for the Sydney-based side meant this clash with the South Pacific visitors might have been a potential banana skin.

But Coleman’s men, however, got off to a fast start as they took a 10-nil lead inside a quarter of an hour.

Donaldson opened the scoring with an eighth-minute penalty before Harris’ converted pick-and-go from under the poles put the hosts into double digits.

Kerr replied with a penalty soon after but Donaldson added two goals in quick succession to make it 16-3 on 22 minutes.

The Fijians struggled to put any attacks together, their handling was poor, and set-pieces shaky as they conceded too many indiscretions.

A couple of attacking lineouts saw the Waratahs win possession after skew throws by hooker Tevita Ikanivere.

Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta knocked on near the try line. However, the South Sea Islanders won a turnover penalty and kicked to the corner again, yet the Tahs survived.

Four minutes before the break, opposition hooker Poercki crashed over from a driving maul to rub salt in the wounds.

Donaldson could not covert but the Waratahs already had a sizable 18-point lead at the break.

Waratahs kill the contest with three scores in 15 minutes after the interval

Things went from bad to worse for the men in white as Foketi dragged two defenders over the line straight from the restart.

Fijian Drua’s forwards made a hash of the kickoff allowing the Tahs to send the ball wide to the centre following another seven-phase attack.

Donaldson missed again before Koroiduadua saw yellow for a tip-tackle on Porecki after Simione Kuruvoli seemed to have scored.

Replays showed the scrum-half knocked on before a double movement saw him put the ball on the line.

TMO James Leckie conferred with referee Nic Berry, and the loosehead prop headed to the bin. Despite being down to 14 men, Drua only conceded one converted Bell try.

Bell barged over the whitewash thanks to Jed Holloway’s well-timed cut-out pass near the goal line. This time the conversion was successful, making it 33-3 after 53 minutes.

Moments later, Kerr’s loose pass was intercepted by Gordon on the Tahs’ 10-metre line. The skipper burst through a hole and sped away from Kalaveti Ravouvou.

The conversion brought up 40 for the hosts, who looked likely to notch a half-century.

However, the game disintegrated as both teams wrang the changes.

The contest, which had been bubbling, saw several scuffles after the whistle as frustrations grew.

New South Wales could not get anything going. They were kept out from the 57th-minute to four minutes after the hooter.

Captain fantastic Nagusa makes history with Fijian Drua’s first Super Rugby try to give supporters something to cheer

There was, however, time for more points. With a quarter of an hour remaining, Drua’s captain – and arguably best player along with scrumhalf Kuruvoli – took a quick-tap penalty from five metres out.

The skipper bashed through Lachie Swinton, ricocheted off Tauakipul, and crashed under Carlo Tizzano, who could do nothing to stop the burly No. 8. Kerr added the extras.

With the game won, Coleman’s side sought to see out the match and protect the bonus point.

Fijian Drua threw everything at NSW but could not find a way over the line.

Several attacks stalled, the Tahs tackled as their lives depended on it as wave after wave of white battered their line.

Tiaan Tauakipulu departed after multiple warnings by Mr. Berry, yet the Sydney side held firm for the much-needed – and rare – five points.

A historic night for Fijian rugby ended in defeat, but not disgrace.

Final Score: NSW Waratahs 40 (21) Fijian Drua 10 (3)

Scorers

Waratahs
Tries – Harris, Porecki, Foketi, Bell, Gordon
Pen – Donaldson (3)
Con – Donaldson (3)
Drop –
Cards – Tauakipulu (Yellow, 81′)

Drua
Tries – Nagusa
Pen – Kerr
Con – Kerr
Drop –
Cards – Koroiduadua (Yellow, 45′)

Match Officials
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1: Reuben Keane
Assistant Ref 2: Matt Kellahan
TMO: James Leckie

Teams

NSW Waratahs

15 Alex Newsome, 14 Dylan Pietsch, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 James Turner, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Will Harris, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Lachie Swinton, 5 Geoff Cridge, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Dave Porecki, 1 Angus Bell

Replacements: 16 Tom Horton, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Tiaan Tauakipulu, 19 Hugh Sinclair, 20 Carlo Tizzano, 21 Henry Robertson, 22 Tane Edmed, 23 Jamie Roberts

Fijian DRUA

15 Selesitino Ravutaumada, 14 Kitione Ratu, 13 Apisalome Vota, 12 Kalaveti Ravouvou, 11 Vinaya Habosi, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 Simione Kuruvoli, 8 Nemani Nagusa (captain), 7 Kitione Salawa, 6 Meli Derenalagi, 5 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 3 Samuela Tawake, 2 Tevita Ikanivere, 1 Jone Koroiduadua.

Replacements: 16 Mesulame Dolokoto, 17 Timoci Sauvoli, 18 Manasa Saulo, 19 Viliame Rarasea, 20 Vilive Miramira, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Caleb Muntz, 23 Onisi Ratave

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