Drua outgun Moana Pasifika in Super Rugby’s newest rivalry
Stuff NZ Newspapers
The Fijian Drua have won the contest for bragging rights between the two Super Rugby newcomers, comprehensively beating a sloppy Moana Pasifika in Sydney yesterday. Moana Pasifika were slow out of the blocks in a tepid display – conceding two tries in the first 10 minutes – and were forced to chase the game in arguably their most disappointing performance of the season. The loss leaves them rooted to the bottom of the ladder, five points behind the Drua – albeit with a game in hand against the Western Force. Trailing 24-12 at halftime, Moana Pasifika briefly threatened a comeback when a beautiful crossfield kick from Danny Toala set up a try for Timoci Tavatavanawai after 56min. However, the Drua regained control of the game and Apisalome Vota’s second try of the game after 69min sealed the deal. Power wing Tavatavanawai was again the best on show for Moana Pasifika, bumping past defenders on several occasions. For the Drua, wing Vinaya Habosi again showed his quality with a scorching long-range try down the left edge after capitalising on a Moana Pasifika mistake. Lincoln McClutchie tried to catch the flying No 11, but Habosi simply had too much pace. Drua fullback Kitione Taliga also had some good moments with the ball in hand, as the Drua looked the more cohesive attacking unit. Moana Pasifika coughed up several good opportunities due to poor handling and, despite a determined display by Solomone Kata, they missed in-form midfielder Levi Aumua. The bulldozing Aumua and lock Sam Slade were both stood down by coach Aaron Mauger earlier in the week for disciplinary reasons, and it was a big setback given Aumua’s midfield combination with Toala has been one of the highlights of Moana Pasifika’s season. They also missed the controlling hand of veteran playmaker Christian Leali’ifano, who started on the bench after an illness during the week. Leali’ifano was injected into the game after 59min and slotted into the midfield, but he couldn’t lift the quality of a second half that was dominated by knock-ons and scrum resets. Big moment Kalaveti Ravouvou took the game by the scruff of the neck with 10 minutes to go, setting off on a weaving run that eventually led to the Drua’s fourth try. It knocked the stuffing out of Moana Pasifika. Match rating: 6/10 There were some heavy tackles on defence, but this was a game that showed how far both teams need to improve to move up the ladder next year. Errors on both sides disrupted the flow of the game and having to play the game in western Sydney in front of a modest crowd dulled the sense of occasion. The big picture Moana Pasifika remain in the wooden-spoon position, five competition points behind the Drua. Their failure to pick up a losing bonus point could hurt them, although the season overall has been hard to judge due to their Covid-enforced fixture congestion. MVP His midfield partner Apisalome Vota grabbed two tries, but Drua No 12 Kalaveti Ravouvou was arguably the most influential player with his strong running and good decision-making. The pair have been a handful.