The Fiji Drua scored their first win in the NRC, defeating the Melbourne Rising.
Both teams headed into this round 2 match looking for their first win. Fijian Drua came back strongly against Brisbane City in round 1, but it was not quite enough, while Melbourne Rising fought hard against a star-studded Perth Spirit, but could not roll the 2016 NRC champions.
From the kick-off, the Fijians were on the attack and it would not be long before the Drua would take first points via a try to Samu Saqiwa, which was subsequently converted. The Rising hit back, quickly via a Nic Stirzaker 5-pointer. Jack McGregor converted and the scores were level 7-7. The scores went back and forth for the remainder of the half with both teams holding strong with the half-time score 12-all.
The Fijian Drua kicked off the second half and were the first to take points via a splendid try from Drua flyhallf Peceli Nacebe. Scores were quickly levelled again, though, after some nice work from Sione Tuipulotu and Jack McGregor gave Rising fullback Jack Maddocks to score a nice try. It was looking like this was going to go down to the wire, but after a trio of tries to Drua’s Saqiwa, Nacebe and Vasiteri, the tide had clearly turned and it would be an uphill battle for Melbourne Rising to claw back the 21-point deficit. Jack McGregor did manage a further 5-points in the last 10 minutes, but so too did Drua’s Apete Daveta, bringing the final score to Melbourne Rising 24, Fijian Drua 45.
It was looking like this was going to go down to the wire, but after a trio of tries to Drua’s Saqiwa, Nacebe and Vasiteri, the tide had clearly turned and it would be an uphill battle for Melbourne Rising to claw back the 21-point deficit. Jack McGregor did manage a further 5-points in the last 10 minutes, but so too did Drua’s Apete Daveta, bringing the final score to Melbourne Rising 24, Fijian Drua 45.
THE WRAP UP
A strong performance by the Fijian Drua gave them a much-deserved debut win. They were solid on attack from first to the last whistle and injected their trademark running in good measure that kept the strong local crowd entertained throughout. The Rising will be disappointed they dropped off in the last 30-minutes of the game and will need to quickly find solutions to their gameplay if they want to be near the pointy end of the NRC table come finals time. Vinaka!
The Game Changer
With the scores locked at 19-19, 10 minutes into the second half, it was a game that could have gone either way, for whoever wanted it more. Three quick converted tries to the Fijians pushed their lead out to what was a road too far for the Melbourne lads.
The G&GR MOTM
With a 20-point contribution, having moved into the number 10 playmaker role after playing fullback the week before, Drua’s Peceli Nadebe gets the G&GR Man Of The Match nod for helping his side to their first NRC win. Apete Daveta and Eroni Vasiteri also deserve special mention, scoring 2 tries a piece for the Drua.
Oz BAABAA Watch
Out of the non-contracted Rebels players, local lads Ikapote Tupac, Hunter Paisami and Kitione equipped themselves well in a game where the Rising were on the back foot more often than not against a strong Drua outfit.
Attendance: A very healthy crowd, enjoying a day in the sun.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Stirzaker, Hanson, Maddocks. McGregor
Conversions: McGregor 2
Tries: Saqiwa 2, Nacebe 2, Daveta 2, Vasiteri
Conversions: Nacebe 5
Cards & Citings
1. Rory O’Connor, 2. James Hanson, 3. Toby Smith, 4. Steve Cummins, 5. Emmanuel Latu-Meafou, 6. Ikapote Tapai, 7. Mahe Vailanu, 8. Sione Taufa, 9. Nic Stirzaker, 10. Jack McGregor, 11. Semisi Tupou, 12. Sione Tuipulotu, 13. Hunter Paisami, 14. Kitione Ratu, 15. Jack Maddocks
16. Siliva Siliva, 17. Tom Moloney, 18. Fereti Sa’aga, 19. Esei Haangana, 20. Lloyd Johansson, 21. Harrison Goddard, 22. Simei Kolio, 23. Angelo Leaupepe
1. Joeli Veitayaki Jnr, 2. Ratu Naisa Nauma, 3. Kalivati Tawake, 4. Peni Naulago, 5. Apisai Tauyavuca, 6. Samu Saqiwa, 7. Mosese Voka, 8. Peni Raidre, 9. Frank Lomani, 10. Peceli Nacebe, 11. Apete Daveta, 12. Eroni Vasiteri, 13. Ifereimi Tovilevu, 14. Eroni Sau, 15. John Stewart [c]
16. Osea Naganilau, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Mosese Ducivaki, 19. Sakiusa Nadruku, 20. Filimoni Seru, 21. Seru Cavuilati, 22. Kini Douglas, 23. Cyril Reece
Photo Credit: Mr Wobbly