Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Crowd powers Fijian Drua to upset win over champion Crusaders

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Photo: Stuff
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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

It was the perfect homecoming for Fijian Drua defeating the defending champions Crusaders in front of a packed out crowd in Lautoka on Saturday. 

A penalty as the final hooter sounded sealed the win for Drua, 25-24, as local fans erupted in celebration.

After an intense first half played in scorching heat, the Crusaders went into the break with only a 12-5 lead over the home team.

But the second half was a different story, as the Drua powered their way through the Crusaders defence to lay on three tries. 

Ilaisa Droasese scored for Drua only ten minutes into the second spell and they continued the momentum with Joseva Tamani adding onto the scoreboard with a try in the corner.

Debutant and Fiji international winger Eroni Sau extended their lead further with a spectacular try of his own. With Drua leading 22-12 and only ten minutes left on the clock, the Crusaders finally found some rythmn putting Sevu Reece over for a try.

But Drua could not retain the kickoff and conceded yet another try, with substitute hooker Ioane Moananu dotting down in the corner after some great forward work from the lineout. 

Photo: Fiji Times

With scores levelled, Fergus Burke slotted the conversion from the corner giving the Crusaders a two point lead and only 90 seconds left in the match. 

However, there still was one more play left in the match, with Drua receiving a penalty right in front of the posts due to some ill discipline from the Crusaders forward pack. 

Stepping up to the task was replacement back Kemu Valentini, who had not been on the field for long. Cool and calm, Valentini slotted the three pointer, giving Drua the victory as the hooter sounded. 

Drua captain Tevita Ikanivere paid huge respect to the home fans and crowd for the win.

“The crowd was unreal today and the game was epic,” he says.

“We had the belief, and we defeated a great team that has been winning for six years in a row. What a better way to do it infront of our home crowd”.

It was a dream come true for the home team especially given it was their first home game for the year. Drua now have two wins out of three, the perfect start so far for the Fijian team. As for the Crusaders, the defending champions have slumped to their second loss of the season.

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