The Fijian Drua pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Rugby history in the third match of their second season in Super Rugby Pacific.
The Drua produced one of rugby’s most spectacular moments with a last-second 25-24 victory over the Crusaders in a sweaty, exhilarating, error-filled game played in near-30-degree temperatures in Lautoka, Fiji.
The 13,000-person Churchill Park stadium was at full capacity, and it contributed to the fantastic atmosphere that visibly energized the home team while the visitors struggled with the heat and basic hand-eye coordination.
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Yet, the Drua earned their victory with an amazing performance in a game that flowed and ended with a spectacular spectacle. Although the Drua team appeared more likely for the most of the game, two first-half tries by Crusaders hooker Quentin MacDonald lifted the Crusaders to a 12-5 halftime advantage.
The Drua were prevented from taking the lead at halftime by some errant goalkicking and a valiant try-line tackle by Willie Heinz. The Crusaders never really got going in the second half. The Drua’s limitless energy was in sharp contrast to their sluggish, languid mobility.
Fijian Drua stun Crusaders in Super Rugby
Fijian Drua defeated the defending champion Canterbury Crusaders by a score of 25–24 on Saturday in Lautoka, giving them their largest victory in Super Rugby Pacific’s two-year history.
With ten minutes remaining, the Drua had a ten point lead thanks to three rapid tries from IIlliasa Droasese, Joseva Tamani, and Eroni Sau in the second half. The Crusaders were revived by this.
Sevu Reece scored in the 74th and Ioane Moananu scored in the 78th minutes, giving Crusaders replacement first-five Fergus Burke the chance to win the game with a successful sideline conversion. He succeeded, but there was one surprise in store.
The Drua were given one final opportunity after Crusaders replacement Noah Hotham knocked on the re-start.
With the subsequent phase, they gained a penalty advantage, and when the attempted drop goal missed, Kemu Valentini, making his debut, had an opportunity to win it with his first kick of the game.
The moment the ball soared directly down the middle will live in the minds of Fijian rugby players forever.
Eight changes were made to the Crusaders’ lineup from the team that defeated the Highlanders the previous Saturday, and coach Scott Robertson will certainly rue not using Richie Mo’unga to provide the field with the much-needed spark.
The Crusaders now have just one victory from their first three games, while the Drua have two Super Rugby.
Tevita Ikaniverse, the captain of the Fijian team, expressed his gratitude to the spectators for supporting them to victory. Today’s game and crowd were both incredible, according to Ikaniverse. “The boys came out firing in the second half, and we succeeded.
As we had been prepared for this game since Monday, we believed anything was possible. We were confident, and we overcame a fantastic club that had a six-year winning streak. What better setting to accomplish it in than in front of our own audience?
Scott Barrett, who was playing in his 100th game, called the circumstances “difficult” but praised the Drua for their victory.
We got what we anticipated, although I suppose that’s not what we wanted, remarked Barrett. “A challenging match at home.
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We were idle for eighty minutes. There were times when we turned our backs on them, and it was clear how dangerous they were and how easily their running play could be exploited.
Getting the 100th was bittersweet, but I’m proud of myself. It’s been a great week, but I’m disappointed that we weren’t able to finish the task.