Drua holds on to win over Moana Pasifika

Fijian Drua's Tevita Ikanivere on the attack against Moana Pasifika in their Super Rugby Pacific match in Lautoka on Saturday 27 May 2023. Photo: Fijian Drua Media

The Fijian Drua won the Super Rugby Pacific battle in Lautoka on Saturday, holding on to edge Moana Pasifika 47-46.

But it was not what Drua did that gave them the win. Instead, a last second missed conversion by Moana Pasifika is what secured them four points.

As the game went into the last five minutes of play and the Drua leading 47-41, Moana Pasifika pulled together and made one last effort to cross the hosts tryline.

Moana won a penalty and they opted for a lineout. It was their best opportunity to pull the game and claim their first win in the 2023 series.

Tongan Samuela Moli finished the driving maul with a try close to the uprights.

But former Wallabies star Christian Leali’ifano missed the conversion and Drua hung on to win 47-46.

Drua centre Iosefo Masi scored a hat-trick in the game and the local fans rallied behind the team, who needed a good win to help them in their bid to win a quarterfinal spot.

Captain Meli Derenalagi said after the match his team was lucky to win.

“We knew Moana Pasifika was going to be tough and we had to fight until the last minute. Hats off to the boys for holding on and we have a lot of weaknesses to work on in the next game,” he said.

Moana captain Solomone Finaki said they missed their chance to claim a famous win.

“Drua just kept coming back at us. We wanted to finish on a high but that’s how it is,” he said.

“We have to move on and focus on the next one.”

Moana Pasifika have gone through the season with 14 losses from as many matches. Photo: Fijian Drua Media

Tit-for-tat match

The match was a tit-for-tat as both forward packs worked hard to keep possession and claim their opposition’s territory.

Moana’s Tongan full back William Havili opened the scoring in the sixth minute and the successful conversion saw them lead 7-0.

But the Fijian Drua replied soon after with Derenalagi’s barging dive over the Moana line, and Frank Lomani’s conversion levelled scores.

With the two teams exchanging tries in the first spell, Drua managed to hang on to a slender 26-24 lead at half time.

It was Moana Pasifika who started the second half with a penalty kick by Leali’ifano, putting them ahead at 27-26.

Masi scored two tries in the second 40 minutes as the Drua fans cheered the local side on in the hot Lautoka afternoon.

But Moana Pasifika fought back and almost pulled the game out of the hat.

Leali’ifano had the last opportunity with his conversion attempt as the siren went for fulltime.

As his kick sailed off the side of the left upright Fijian Drua vans erupted with joy.

The Drua team will need to defeat the Reds with a good margin in Suva on Saturday if they are to finish in the top eight in the competition.

They currently sit on 10th spot with 21 points from five wins, two points behind eighth placed Highlanders and three behind seventh placed Reds.

Moana will travel to Sydney to meet the Waratahs on Saturday night. They have gone through the season with 14 losses from as many matches.