Going into matchday 5 of the Australian National Rugby Championship (NRC), the Fijian Drua were on a high. The team won their last three games in convincing fashion. The Pacific Islanders dismantled established sides such as the Melbourne Rising and the Perth Spirit. Eventually, some team would figure out a game plan to beat the Drua. That team was the Canberra Vikings, who had done their homework on the Drua and prepared a plan to counter the Fijian side’s freestyle game. It showed on the scoreboard with a 66-7 win in favour of the Vikings.
The Drua came into this one a touch complacent and they did not realise that Canberra had done in-depth studies of the team before Friday’s match. The Vikings blew the Fijian outfit off the park by playing clinical rugby. They dominated the forward battle and pinpointed the areas of weakness within the defensive line of the Drua. These two areas have long been the Achilles heel of Fijian Rugby and this was exploited by the Vikings to their advantage.
To the Fijian Drua, the game against Canberra showed that they have a lot to learn in order to perform consistently at the professional level. They played exceptionally well in the last three rounds by a team that had eleven Brumbies players on show. This is not an excuse, but it can be seen as a learning curve that will definitely help the Drua players improve their game. It is important that the team bounces back quickly, starting this weekend with a game against the Greater Sydney Rams.
The match showed what Australian rugby is capable of as the Vikings combined clinical rugby with an open attacking game. Their great running lines and ability to run through the phases resulted in a number of outstanding tries that can be seen in the video in this article. Canberra showed how to execute a game plan that nullified the power and offloading game of the Fijians, causing them to beat themselves with over-ambitious passes and ill-discipline.
Player of the Match
Hardworking openside flanker Tom Cusack was always in the thick of things in this match. The 24-year-old, two-cap Brumbie has a big future in the game and he did his reputation no harm at all here. He combined outstanding support play, crucial tackling that stopped the Drua in their tracks on more than one occasion, and terrific nuisance play at the breakdown. His effort was rewarded with a hat-trick of tries. Cusack showed exceptional leadership – he is the Vikings captain – as he intelligently led his team as they brushed aside the challenge from the Drua.
The next game for the Drua will be against the Rams. The Fijian supporters will be eagerly waiting to see how they response from their humbling defeat in the Australian capital. They have to also to prove their detractors and critics wrong who don’t believe they have the mental toughness to bounce back from a loss of this nature. What is surprising is that many Fijians were silently cheering for a thrashing of the Drua and they must have been happy with the result of the game against the Vikings. The Fijians need to work on the weaknesses that were identified in the match in Canberra and play a more disciplined style rugby combined with their traditional flair. This would go a long way towards proving all their critics wrong and show that the way they react after a heavy defeat is akin to a team that should be playing Super Rugby.
Can the Drua bounce back from this result? Let us know in the comments section!
Highlights of the Round 5 2017 NRC game between the Fijian Drua and the Canberra Vikings.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?