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Second-half blitz sees Fijian Drua beat Rebels and claim final playoff spot

By AAP
Frank Lomani of the Fijian Drua scores a try. Photo by Pita Simpson/Getty Images

Playing in the final round just days after news of their axing from Super Rugby Pacific, Melbourne have been unable to match the Fijian Drua, falling 40-19 in Lautoka.

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Before flying out to Fiji, the Rebels were given the shattering news by Rugby Australia that the financially stricken club would be wound up after 14 seasons.

Seventh heading into the contest, Melbourne already had their first-ever spot in the competition’s quarter-finals locked down, but were keen to end a five-game losing streak.

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The lads have plenty of big club games to react to this week after finals in Europe and Japan as well as some huge results in Super Rugby Pacific. We start by dissecting the games in Christchurch and Hamilton before casting an eye over the Champions Cup final.

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The lads have plenty of big club games to react to this week after finals in Europe and Japan as well as some huge results in Super Rugby Pacific. We start by dissecting the games in Christchurch and Hamilton before casting an eye over the Champions Cup final.

The Drua had plenty to play for in front of a vocal home crowd at Churchill Park, with a win securing them a place in the eight-team play-offs and ending any chance for the Western Force.

Collecting a bonus point with the victory, the Drua leap-frogged the Rebels into seventh spot, with their last-eight rivals to be decided later in the round.

The sides were level 19-19 at halftime, with Melbourne’s tries coming from lock Josh Canham and Andrew Kellaway, who was a stand-out for the Australian side.

Test prop Taniela Tupou, playing his 100th Super match, also turned in a big shift for the Rebels.

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Melbourne were awarded a penalty try when an offside Frank Lomani kicked the ball out of the maul as the Rebels worked it over the tryline.

The Drua halfback given a yellow card for his troubles.

But the Fijians hit back with three tries in the opening 12 minutes of the second half to blow their lead out by 21 points

Exciting young winger Waqa Nalaga bagged his second as the Drua took control of the match to the delight of the home crowd.

They were denied a late try by lock Mesake Vocevoce with the TMO giving a knock-on in the lead-up, but the near miss did little to quell the celebrations.

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The Rebels travelled to Fiji without star playmaker Carter Gordon, who missed a second successive game due to concussion symptoms, with Jake Strachan starting at 10.

They are likely to be without skipper Rob Leota for the finals after the No.8 was forced off in the second half following an ugly head knock.

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Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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1 Comment
R
Red and White Dynamight 21 days ago

Drua have been a fantastic addition to Super. Aus now down to 4 teams. Bring the Jaguares back in, they were Finalists in their last season. Super crowds are rising with afternoon KO’s, not having to cowtow to viewer schedules in UK/SA. win-win.

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