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Captain Meli Derenalagi returns for Drua’s clash with Melbourne Rebels

By Finn Morton
Meli Derenalagi of the Fijian Drua runs his team out ahead of the round four Super Rugby Pacific match between Chiefs and Fijian Drua at FMG Stadium Waikato, on March 16, 2024, in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

After missing the Fijian Drua’s win over the Western Force in Lautoka, team captain Meli Derenalagi has been named to return at No. 8 against the Melbourne Rebels on Friday night.

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Coach Mick Byrne has made a couple of changes to the starting side, with Vilive Miramira’s inclusion at blindside flanker the only other change in the forward pack. Miramira comes into the starting side as a replacement for the injured Etonia Waqa.

The rest of the starting side remains unchanged, including the same backline that helped the Drua claim their third win over the season on a wet Saturday afternoon against the Western Force at Churchill Park.

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Flying Fijians star Tevita Ikanivere has been cleared to play and will pack down in the front row along with Haereiti Hetet and Mesake Doge. Locks Mesake Vocevoce and Leone Rotuisolia complete the Drua’s tight five for the round seven clash.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
2
Draws
0
Wins
3
Average Points scored
31
31
First try wins
60%
Home team wins
100%

Vilive Miramira will take his place at blindside flanker, while Kitione Salawa lines up at openside. Then there’s captain Derenalagi who rounds out a formidable Fijian Drua forward pack.

In-form halfback Frank Lomani joins rising star Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula in the halves again this week, while Apisalome Vota and try-scoring machine Iosefo Masi are just outside them in the midfield.

Masi has been especially impressive this season. The outside centre is equal-first for tries scored this season with six to his name.

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Epeli Momo and Selestino Ravutaumada have been named on the wings while fullback Ilaisa Droasese will line up with the No. 15 jersey on his back once again on Friday night.

On the bench, outside back Taniela Rakuro is certainly one to watch.

This clash at Melbourne’s AAMI Park is scheduled to get off at 7:35 pm AEDT on Friday night.

Fijian Drua to take on Melbourne Rebels

  1. Haereiti Hetet
  2. Tevita Ikanivere
  3. Mesake Doge
  4. Mesake Vocevoce
  5. Leone Rotuisolia
  6. Vilive Miramira
  7. Kitione Salawa
  8. Meli Derenalagi
  9. Frank Lomani
  10. Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula
  11. Epeli Momo
  12. Apisalome Vota
  13. Iosefo Masi
  14. Selestino Ravutaumada
  15. Ilaisa Droasese

Reserves

  1. Zuriel Togiatama
  2. Livai Natave
  3. Jone Koroiduadua
  4. Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta
  5. Elia Canakaivata
  6. Simione Kuruvoli
  7. Waqa Nalaga
  8. Taniela Rakuro
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