Seventh heaven for Drua in Melbourne
The Fijian Drua have claimed a historic maiden National Rugby Championship (NRC) victory with a 45-24 win over the Melbourne Rising at Harlequin Park in Melbourne on Saturday afternoon.
The Fijians were clinical with their opportunities to score 33 points after half-time, including three tries in five minutes, to run away with the team’s first win in their second game.
Drua flyhalf Peceli Nacebe scored 20 points, including two tries and five conversions, as the visitors outscored the Rising seven tries to four in a physical clash.
The hosts were under pressure early when flanker Samu Saqiwa pounced on a loose ball at the back of a Rising scrum five metres out to crash over for the first try of the game in the fifth minute.
The Rising struck back immediately to level the scores 7-7 through scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker, who dummied and dove over the line, and the conversion from the boot of Jack McGregor.
Patience paid off for the Drua when they converted territory into points through winger Apete Daveta midway through the first-half.
After being denied by the TMO earlier in the game, James Hanson added his name to the scoresheet when the forwards combined to put the Rising hooker over the line and level the scores 12-12.
Gallant and tenacious goal line defence held out the visitors on the stroke of half-time when the Drua strung 20 phases together for no reward as the two sides went to the break 12-12.
Naceba showed his genuine pace less than a minute after the restart when the flyhalf exploded through the Rising defence to go 50 metres and score under the posts to give the Drua a 19-12 lead.
The Rising struck back five minutes later to level the scores again when Sione Tuipulotu put Jack Maddocks through a gap in the defence to score his second try of the season.
Saqiwa and Nacebe scored their second tries of the game and Eroni Vasiteri added a third as the Drua piled on three tries in five minutes midway through the second-half to race out to a 40-19 lead.
The Rising scored late when McGregor showed his strength to step through the defence and muscle his way over the line for his second try in two games to make it 40-24 with ten minutes remaining.
Daveta rounded out the scoring in the 75th minute when the winger cleanly gathered a grubber kick for his second try of the match and seal the 45-24 win.
Fijian Drua (Saqiwa 2, Daveta 2, Nacebe 2, Vasiteri tries; Nacebe 5 cons) defeated Melbourne Rising (Stirzaker, Hanson, Maddocks, McGregor tries; McGregor 2 con)