The Swire Shipping Fijian Drua put on a brave performance and narrowly went down 27-24 to the Reds in Round 4 of the Super Rugby Pacific in Queensland on Sunday.
The Meli Derenalagi captained side lightened up the game in the second stanza and scored three converted tries to narrow the gap to just three points and a late surge led by hooker Tevita Ikanivere was spoiled by Reds’ Fijian winger Filipo Daugunu, who more so saved the day for the hosts with the crucial turnover steal.
The Drua lost Joseva Tamani to an injury just hours before kick-off and this saw Captain Derenalagi moved to the side of the scrum at no. 6, Elia Canakaivata start at number 8, and Vilive Miramira returns to the match day 23 as the reserve loose forward on the bench.
Scrumhalf Frank Lomani took over the kicking duties from Teti Tela today and scored the first points of the match through a penalty in the 7th minute.
Josh Flook got the hosts back in the game after scoring a try in the corner in the 10th minute before Fijian flanker Kitione Salawa was sent to the sin-bin for dangerous play.
The Reds displayed some good phases of play and Flook followed with his second in the 28th minute.
Drua found it hard to connect passes upon reaching the opposition’s 22 and Lomani opted for kicks during the key attacking moments which saw the half end with a 12-3 score line in favour of the Reds.
Two quick tries after the break to Harry Wilson and Fijian flyer Suliasi Vunivalu saw the Reds double the lead.
They however lost Fijian forward Seru Uru to a yellow card, an advantage which was well used by the visitors and Ratu Leone Rotuisolia managed to barge his way to the try-line from a drive to score the first Fijian Drua try which was successfully converted by Lomani.
Kalaveti Ravouvou came off the bench and made an instant impact in the 64th minute as he finished a quick tap and release effort via a Lomani penalty. Lomani converted to narrow the gap to only seven points.
Some indiscipline play by the Drua forwards saw the Reds get a penalty which they opted to kick for goal to open up a 10 point lead.
The Fijian Drua opted the last ten minutes of the match and hardworking Iosefo Masi scored a beautiful try after the ball was spread out wide wonderfully by Lomani.
Lomani converted to reduce the deficit to only three points, and the urge to win saw Drua throw everything in the fire, but a Daugunu intervention prevented what possibly could have turned into another upset win for the Fijians in a span of just over a week.
The Mick Byrne coached side will now play the Highlanders in Round 5 in New Zealand next weekend while the Reds will come up against the Melbourne Rebels.