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Fijian Drua topple Moana Pasifika in first-ever all-Pacific Super Rugby clash

By AAP
Fijian Drua (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Fijian Drua have prevailed in their inaugural clash with Moana Pasifika, winning 34-19 in Parramatta.

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The first meeting of the Super Rugby Pacific’s newest sides proved a high-scoring affair at CommBank Stadium, with the Fijians seeing off a fighting Pasifika line-up and claiming their second victory of the season.

But beaten Moana captain and former Wallaby Sekope Kepu said the match was significant for more than just the result.

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“Today was a special day, a historic day Pacific Island people, for Polynesian people,” he told Stan Sport.

“Obviously it’s a disappointing result for us.

“A couple of the early tries, the bounce of the ball can be quite cruel sometimes, but that’s Fijian style rugby, pouncing on every opportunity you get.”

The Drua were ahead inside five minutes when Kalaveti Ravouvou found a beautiful offload for Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta to cross, and it was 14-0 soon after when speedy winger Vinaya Habosi broke free and ran more than half the field to score.

Moana got on the board when Solomone Funaki peeled off the back of a maul and barged over, but a fortuitous bounce let the Drua extend their lead late in the first half through Apisalome Vota.

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The powerful Pasifika maul allowed prop Abraham Pole to score and cut the margin to 12 before the break, and they were even closer early in the second half when an inch-perfect kick from Danny Toala found winger Timoci Tavatavanawai to cross in the corner.

At 24-19, Moana had moments where it looked as if they could taste victory, but the Drua iced the contest with a penalty before Vota doubled up for 34-19.

It was the Drua’s first win since round three, when they knocked off the Melbourne Rebels.

Fijian Drua 34 (Tries to Te Ahiwara Cirikidaveta, Vinaya Haobosi and Apisalome Vota (2); 4 conversions and 2 penalties to Teti Tela)

Moana Pasifika 19 (Tries to Solomone Funaki, Abraham Pole and Timoci Tavatavanawai; conversion to Lincoln McClutchie, conversion to William Havili)

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Jon 1 hours ago
Sam Cane was unfairly cast in Richie McCaw's shadow for too long

> McCaw’s durability and sustained excellence were unique, but we seemed to believe his successors were cut from the same cloth. It’s easy to forget McCaw was just as heavily critiqued for the last two years of his career. The only real difference was his captaining criticisms and his playing criticisms happened at different times, where Cane was criticized for a few things in both areas for all of his last 4 years. This was also heavily influenced by another McCaw esque presence, in Ardie Savea, being in the team and pushed out of his original position. It could be said we essentially didn’t have the 3 prior years with Ardie as world player of the year because he was changing into this new role. I say “original” position as despite him never coming out and saying his desire is to perform his role from, that I know of, clearly as part of a partnership with Cane as 7, I don’t think this was because he really wanted Cane’s playing spot. I think it most likely that it comes down to poor All Black management that those sort of debates weren’t put to bed as being needless and irrelevant. It has been brought up many times in past few months of discussions on articles here at RP, that early calls in WC cycles, to say pigeonhole an All Black team into being required to have a physical dynamo on defence at 7 (and ballplyaer at 8 etc) are detrimental. In the end we did not even come up against a team that threw large bodies at us relentlessly, like why we encountered in the 2019 WC semi final, at all in this last WC. Even then they couldn’t see the real weakness was defending against dynamic attacks (which we didn’t want to/couldn’t give 2019 England credit for) like the Twickenham Boks, and Irish and French sides (even 10 minutes of an English onslaught) that plagued our record and aura the last 4 years. It really is a folly that is the All Blacks own creation, and I think it pure luck, and that Cane was also such a quality All Black, that he was also became an integral part of stopping the side from getting run off the park. Not just rampaged. > The hushed tones, the nods of approval, the continued promotion of this nonsense that these men are somehow supernatural beings. I bet this author was one of those criticizing Cane for coming out and speaking his mind in defence of his team that year. Despite the apparent hypocrisy I agree with the sentiment, but I can only see our last captain as going down the same road his two prior captains, Read and McCaw, have gone. I am really for Cane becoming an extra member to each squad this year, June, RC, and November tours, and he is really someone I can see being able to come back into the role after 3 seasons in Japan. As we saw last year, we would have killed for someone of his quality to have been available rather than calling on someone like Blackadder. Just like the Boks did for 2023.

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