The Fijian Drua got back to winning ways when they dispatched the Greater Sydney Rams emphatically by a 57-31 scoreline last weekend. The Rams just could not contain the Drua, who had way too much firepower in their attack, especially as they were still smarting from their defeat last time out against the Canberra Vikings. The Drua proved yet again they have the talent and skills to mix it up with teams that boast professional players.
Try of the Match
Joe Veitayaki Jr. gets the honour for this one. It was a gem. He collected a pop pass from Apete Daveta, which led to him scoring the first try for the Drua in the 14th minute. Daveta started the sequence of play from the halfway line. This try was special because it was a prop racing in to score the try after running an outstanding support like to aid Daveta after he made the initial break through the Rams defensive line.
Player of the Match
The aforementioned Daveta was involved in the thick of things as he scored two brilliant tries and assisted another. Daveta has improved tremendously since Round One of the National Rugby Championship, showing exactly how this competition is aiding in the development of the Drua players. Going forward he will be crucial to the Fijians campaign as they push towards a playoff spot.
This clash showed many of the positives of Fijian rugby, especially when viewed against such tough opposition. The Rams held their own in the game until the 60th minute, but for much of the match they were holding on against the Drua onslaught. When the points came for the Drua, it seemed so simple as the Fijians scored at will late on. Greater Sydney just couldn’t cope with the pass and pop game of the Drua to their big runners over the final quarter of the game.
The islanders game is based on several things. The first being physical superiority, being flexible, strong and fast. This enables them to perform skills using a wide range of motion, such as basketball passes, kicks from one hand on a swerve, small chip kicks, and confident catching of awkward balls. They’re physical in contact, using strong leg drive to power forward and through tackles.
Apart from the physical aspect, the Bula Boys also possess high levels of rugby knowledge. They’re highly instinctive in attack and this makes them dangerous when they sense attacking opportunities and to turn over ball. Both their backs and their forwards can pass, sidestep and offload in contact, which leads to some brilliant attacking raids into their opponent’s half. All this is due to the countless touch rugby games that are played every afternoon except on Sundays in neighbourhoods and village grounds all over the Fijian Islands.
What really makes the Fijians joyful to watch is the sense of playfulness they emit. When the Fijians play, there is a sense of freedom to what they do which resonates with viewers and rugby fans around the globe. Forwards and backs have their roles but they all actively collaborate in an attacking set up that is semi-structured at best, but which ends up in brilliant tries that have their fans raptures.
This is not to say that the Fijian Drua plays without fault. Their line-outs against the Rams, in particular, weren’t successful. There were also far too many dropped balls, wayward passes, and moments of ill-discipline. This is maybe due to the expansive style the Fijians have adopted in their attacking play, but if they want to have a realistic shot of winning the NRC in 2017, then they will have to clean up these problematic areas.
So what is the secret to their success in an attack? I suspect that it’s the culture of free play they have. Rugby in Fiji is played in open spaces, without touchlines, with water bottles instead of balls and with bare feet. They don’t separate into age groups as young and old will join in touch rugby games where you will see the basketball passes, sidesteps, and spatial awareness you then see in the play of the Drua.
Maybe it’s this liberty to find solutions, and to make mistakes, that makes a difference. If you play like this all the time, then instinct and team understanding become second-nature. This is what the Fijians have continually showcased to the rugby world on the sevens circuit and now the Fijian Drua are working on doing the same in the NRC.
How are you enjoying the Drua in the NRC? Comment below!
Highlights of the NRC Round 6 clash between the Fijian Drua and the Greater Sydney Rams.
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