October 28, 2017
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Drua suffers loss, qualifies for semis

The Fiji Airways Drua suffered a 36-29 loss at the hands of Sydney Rays in the last round of the National Rugby Championship at the ANZ Stadium tonight but has managed to book its spot in the semifinals in its maiden season.

The Senirusi Seruvakula coached side  took a losing bonus point from the match, which means they will qualify for the NRC finals in third place on the standings.

The result also sees Canberra Vikings now book a home semifinal spot while the Perth Spirit now only need a bonus point win over Queensland Country tomorrow to leapfrog NSW Country into fourth spot.

Sydney Rays playing with nothing to lose dominated the first half and led 12-0 at the break with Apolosi Latunipulu and Irae Simone scoring in the corner.

Hooker Damien Fitzpatrick scored two early second half tries as the visitors went ahead 22-0.

Simone scored his second try of the night in the 52nd minute as the hosts were reduced to 14 players with Eroni Sau yellow carded for a high tackle.

29-0 down, the Fijian Drua made a strong comeback and Number 8 Peni Raidre scored their first try in the 61st minute.

Replacement halfback Seru Cavuilati followed with another one a couple of minutes later to reduce the scores to 29-10.

Cavuilati was over again in the 69th minute, and when flyhalf Kini Douglas scored and converted in the 73rd minute, the match opened up and could have been anyone’s game as the score-line was narrowed to 29-22.

Rays scrumhalf Nick Duffy scored under the posts from close range, Sam Lane’s conversion putting the score out to 36-22, but the Drua did not give up and hit straight back through Douglas’ second to keep their hopes alive and put themselves back in bonus point range.

The Rays managed to sustain pressure in the dying minutes and held on to win the encounter.

By Reginald Chandar

 


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