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Fijian Drua stun Crusaders in Super Rugby boilover

By AAP
(Photo by Pita Simpson/Getty Images)

Fijian Drua recorded the biggest win of their two seasons in Super Rugby Pacific on Saturday with a stunning 25-24 upset of the reigning champion Canterbury Crusaders in front of a passionate home crowd in Lautoka.

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Debutant replacement flyhalf Kemu Valetini slotted the winning penalty from in front with 80 minutes already up on the clock after a topsy-turvy match played in stifling heat at Churchill Park.

Hammered 61-3 by the 13-times Super Rugby champions in their only previous meeting in May last year, the Drua went 12-0 down early in the contest after the Crusaders scored two tries through rolling mauls.

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They stormed back with unanswered tries from centre Iosefi Masi, fullback Ilaisa Droasese, flanker Joseva Tamani and winger Eroni Sau to take a 22-12 lead with 13 minutes remaining.

The Crusaders rallied with a try from Fiji-born winger Sevu Reece and another from a rolling maul for replacement hooker Ioane Moananu, which flyhalf Fergus Burke converted from the touchline to put the visitors 24-22 ahead with seconds to go.

The New Zealanders knocked on from the ensuing kick-off to give the Drua another chance, however, and they worked calmly through several phases before the Crusaders were penalised to give Valetini the chance to secure a famous victory.

“It was unreal today, it was epic,” said Drua captain Tevita Ikanivere.

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“The boys came out in the second half firing and we did the job, we got the win. We had the belief we could do it and we came and defeated a great Crusaders team.

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“And what better way to do it than in front of our home crowd.”

It was a second defeat in three matches this season for the sometimes slow-starting Crusaders.

“I guess that’s not what we wanted, but we got what we expected, that’s a tough Drua side playing at home,” said Crusaders captain Scott Barrett, who was playing his 100th Super Rugby match.

“We saw how dangerous they were, they capitalised with their skill, running play. Congratulations to the Drua on their win.”

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3 Comments
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finn 500 days ago

NZRU should wait before giving the job to robertson...

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Jon 2 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

> it was apparent Robertson was worried about his lack of experience at half-back, hence the decision to start veteran TJ Perenara and put Finlay Christie, the next most experienced number nine, on the bench. I don’t think it was this at all. It was a general scope he was putting over all the playerbase, he went with this cohesion factor in every position. > If the main priority is to build different tactical elements to the gameplan, then Ratima is the man in whom Robertson needs to trust and promote. This also I think is antagonist towards the reference game plans. The other plans do not need the speed of which Perenara (atleast) can’t provide, and I think personal is going to be the main point of difference between these games/opponents. That is the aspect of which I think most people will struggle to grasp, a horses for course selection policy over the typical ‘Top All Black 15’. That best 15 group of players is going to have to get broken down into categories. So it test one we saw Christie control the game to nullify the English threats out of existence and grind to a win. In test two we saw Ratima need to come on which dictated that this time they would run them off their feet with speed and the space did open up and the victory did come. Horses for courses. The same concepts are going to exist for every group, front row, lock and loose forward balance, midfield, and outside backs all can have positional changes that the players may be asked to accentualize on and develop. There might be some that _it_ will not ever click for, but they’ll hopefully still be getting to enjoy unbelievable comeback victories and late game shutouts to close it down. Knowing does not mean not enjoying.

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