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Watch: Fijian Drua leave it late in historic win over Crusaders

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Pita Simpson/Getty Images)

The Fijian Drua’s historic win over defending Super Rugby Pacific champions the Crusaders at Churchill Park couldn’t have been scripted any better.

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Playing in front of their home fans for the first time this season, the Drua left it late to beat the decorated New Zealand franchise 25-24 in Lautoka.

It all came down to one moment, a moment that will replayed time and time again by Fijian rugby fans around the world.

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Debutant Kemi Valetini, the older brother of world-class Wallabies No. 8 Rob, kicked a penalty goal after the siren to give his side a thrilling one-point win.

The significance of the kick brought on feelings of sweet, sweet victory for the Drua players, coaches and their vibrant supporters. This result simply meant more, and that become very clear after Valetini’s clutch penalty in the 83rd minute.

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After losing their opening match of the season against the Chiefs, the Crusaders bounced back with a vintage display against South Island rivals the Highlanders in Super Round.

The champion team had seemingly found their mojo after an early season shock, and were undoubtedly eager to back that performance up with another win in Fiji.

Crusaders captain Scott Barrett played his 100th match for the decorated Super Rugby franchise, and was just one of seven players to have retained his spot in the starting XV.

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Without All Blacks Mitchell Drummond and Richie Mo’unga in the halves, the Crusaders overcame a nervy start to race out to a commanding lead.

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Hooker Quentin MacDonald reaped the rewards of the Crusaders rampaging rolling maul in both the 11th and 22nd minutes, as the visitors raced out to 12-nil lead.

While the Drua hit back through rising star Iosefo Masi shortly after – and nearly levelled the scores before the break – the Crusaders went into sheds at half-time in control.

But there was just something in the air today. An upset was brewing – the possibly of an all-time shock result appeared to be on the cards.

Fullback Ilaisa Droasese helped the Drua level the score at 12-all with a try early in the second-half, before the hosts took the lead through loose forward Joseva Tamani.

Eroni Sau scored a try in the left corner with 13 minutes to play, which had seemingly iced the game for the hosts. They appeared to be on the cusp of an incredible victory.

But tries to Sevu Reece and Ioane Moananu, as well as a clutch sideline conversion from Fergus Burke, saw the Crusaders take the lead with less than a minute to run on the clock.

But never say never.

The Drua won the ball back from the kick-off, and caught the Crusaders out as they unleashed an attacking onslaught on the defending champions.

Playing with the penalty advantage, the Drua attempted a drop kick but the attempt went wide left.

So, as if it were a Hollywood movie, a debutant stepped up and kicked a penalty goal.

The very definition of a fairytale finish.

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