Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Hurricanes blown away in Suva

Two crucial penalties by replacement fly-half Kemu Valetini saw the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua register a famous 27-24 Super Rugby Pacific win over the Hurricanes in Suva today.

The win, a fourth for the Fijian franchise and the third against a New Zealand based side came at no better time as the hosts had struggled in their past few encounters.

The Drua bought the crowd to life when Taniela Rakuro crossed over for the first try in the 17th minute.

Rakuro recovered well from a sloppy pass of the back of the scrum to straighten for the line.

Halfback Frank Lomani added the conversion for a seven point lead.

The Drua looked to establish themselves early, but multiple opportunities were inept at bay by the resilient Hurricanes defence.

Drua top tackler and openside flanker Kitione Salawa was taken off midway in the first half with an unforeseen injury bringing reserve loosie Meli Derenalagi early into play.

The Canes composure paid off and with a worked move from the back of a five metre scrum, quick ball out wide saw former All Black Julian Savea cross over in the 30th minute with the conversion from Jordie Barrett away.

A break from Selestino Ravutaumada almost had Lomani extending the lead but he lost the ball going over.

The Drua enjoyed a slender 7-5 halftime lead.

The Canes found their rhythm early in the second half and following the shuffle of a line-out in the Drua 22 metre had Savea cross over for his second try in the 42nd minute with Barrett again missing the conversion.

The Drua regained the lead four minutes later when a break from outside centre Iosefo Masi had Rakuro unmarked and over in the corner with Lomani adding the conversion from the touch line.

Hurricanes prop Xavier Numia was awarded a controversial try in the 51st minute that had the crowd unsettled as his grounding looked dubious.

Barrett converted from right in front, putting the visitors in front 17-14.

The Canes had a sniff of victory and pressed on with Du’Plessis Kirifi crossing through a forwards worked try under the sticks with Barrett converting.

The Drua kept up the fight and a break after the restart from substitute halfback Peni Matawalu with a follow through offload from the skipper Tevita Kinanivere saw Derenalagi through to score in the 59th minute close to the posts with Valetini adding the conversion setting up an exciting final 20 minutes.

The Drua picked up the pressure and an awarded penalty off a wheeled scrum saw Valetini level up the scores in the 75th minute.

The never say die attitude of the Fijians kept them going and a big break by Masi saw the Canes wilt under pressure and give away another penalty and lose Isaiah Leawere-Walker to a red card, as his 50th Super Rugby appearance turned bitter.

The Drua opted for the kick and Valetini stepped up to the occasion and booted the ball over the uprights to send the big Fijian crowd into frenzy.

The Fijian Drua will face the Western Force in their next match in Perth.

The teams:

Fijian Drua– Haereiti Hetet, Tevita Ikanivere, Samuela Tawake, Isoa Nasilasila, Joseva Tamani, Vilive Miramira, Kitione Salawa, Elia Canakaivata, Frank Lomani, Teti Tela, Taniela Rakuro, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Iosefo Masi, Selestino Ravutaumada, Ilaisa Droasese.

Reserves– Mesulame Dolokoto, Livai Natave, Jone Koroi, Etonia Waqa, Meli Derenalagi, Peni Matawalu, Kemu Valetini, Eroni Sau.

Hurricanes– Xavier Numia, Asafo Aumua, Tyrel Lomax, Justin Sangster, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Devan Flanders, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Ardie Savea, Cam Roigard, Aidan Morgan, Kini Naholo, Jordie Barrett, Billy Proctor, Julian Savea, Josh Moorby.

Reserves– Jacob Devery, Tevita Mafileo, Owen Franks, TK Howden, Brayden Iose, Jamie Booth, Harry Godfrey, Salesi Rayasi.

Noa Biudole
Noa Biudole
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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