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Brutal Super Round contest sees Drua go toe-to-toe with Waratahs

By AAP
Drua and Waratah players clash during the Super Rugby match between the NSW Waratahs and the Fijian Drua at the AAMI Park in Melbourne on March 4, 2023. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) / --IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE-- (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

The NSW Waratahs have emerged battered and bruised but with a vital win against Fijian Drua in a brutal Super Round rugby clash in Melbourne on Saturday.

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Darren Coleman’s Waratahs scored six tries, including five in the second half, to post a 46-17 victory at AAMI Park on Saturday night to bank their first win of the Super Rugby Pacific season.

The Sydneysiders broke a 17-17 deadlock in the 56th minute with No.8 Langi Gleeson, who was one of their best, planting the ball across the line.

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From there they were never headed, with five-eighth Tane Edmed touching down before Max Jorgensen and Mark Nawaqanitawase followed, the latter two eased by the Drua being down to 13 men after two yellow cards.

The Waratahs started strongly but had little to show for their early dominance, restricted to a try in the 10th minute from Dave Porecki, the hooker diving across the line from the back of the ruck.

Buoyed by a vocal crowd who at one stage cheered every tackle a Waratahs player, the Fijians started to work their way into the game.

They were piggy-backed by some poor discipline by New South Wales, who accrued nine penalties in the first half.

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Fijian Drua hit the lead in the 31st minute through flanker Joe Tamani, with a late penalty by Edmed levelling the score at 10-10.

The Waratahs looked happy to reach the break level, with lock Jed Holloway telling TV commentary his team had been “bashed” in the final 10 minutes before the whistle.

Drua hooker Tevita Ikanivere crashed through Jake Gordon to again give his side the lead three minutes into the second half but the Waratahs hit back five minutes later through fullback Ben Donaldson.

Gleeson’s effort opened the floodgates for the Waratahs to pick up an important bonus point in the win.

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