The game between the Fijian Drua and the Perth Spirit in Round 4 of the Australian National Rugby Championship (NRC) in Suva saw the fall of the team that is considered the top dog in that competition. The Perth Spirit walked into an ambush, one where they couldn’t match what the Fijian Drua was throwing at them. The final score of 41-5 to the Drua was something that most rugby pundits were not expecting, especially as Perth were at the top of the table before they were taken to the cleaners by the Fijians on Saturday.
Last Four Rounds:
Round 1: Fijian Drua 36-45 Brisbane City
Round 2: Fijian Drua 45-24: Melbourne Rising
Round 3: Fijian Drua 31-14: NSW Country Eagles
Round 4: Fijian Drua 41-5: Perth Spirit
The results so far that are shown above prove that the Drua are serious contenders for a playoff spot in the NRC. The results that the Fijians are putting up against better resourced and financed teams show that having monetary muscle does not always count for much on the rugby pitch. The Fijians are well coached and their players are finding life in the competition to be surprisingly easy at this point.
On one play, Drua were camped well inside their own half. They slickly got the ball to the edge and through strong running, offloads and interplay, their winger and captain John Stewart crossed over for a spectacular try. This was a try that was out of the top drawer and it showcased the teamwork and the running ability in open play that Fijians are known for. This has been a trademark of Pacific Islands rugby, especially the Fijians, and this is something that the Australian teams are struggling to figure out as the Drua continue to take the competition in their stride.
Players of the Match
This award has to be shared between two players this week. Drua captain John Stewart and their versatile halfback Frank Lomani, both of whom were always in the thick of things. Almost everything good that the Drua are involved in seems to begin or end with the work of one of these two players.
In the Drua’s latest match, they put on a masterful performance that looked like it was out of a Super Rugby game. It was their second home game of the season and in front of a rugby knowledgeable crowd at the ANZ Stadium in Suva they really turned on the style. Considering that the two teams did not have any big names in their ranks, a sizeable number of people turned up to watch the contest. The crowd was much bigger than some that were present for the Fiji national side’s games earlier this year in the Rugby World Cup qualifying matches. It shows that the Fijian Rugby audience is hungry for top-class rugby games, especially against overseas teams in a competition where the Drua are competitive.
Like in the previous rounds, the Fijian Drua hit hard on defence and also ran hard in attack. Many of their players have that high knee action that makes Pacific Island players so hard to tackle one-on-one. They threw the ball around that created opportunities and space out wide, and the result was a highlight-filled display of improvised, running and attacking rugby. Hopefully, this is helping revitalise the interest of fans in the competitive Australian winter sports market and more of them are getting back into rugby union to see the Drua play.
Players to Keep Watching
The Fijian Drua’s staff have unearthed some special talents. These include their powerful centre Eroni Vasiteri who was a handful in the midfield, dynamic scrum half Frank Lomani who was always in support when there was a line break by the Drua runners and their versatile and exciting fly half Peceli Nacebe. Their hardworking back rowers also deserve a mention as they are always around the ball.
The Fijian Drua will be playing the Canberra Vikings next week. Vikings fans will have the chance to watch the exhilarating rugby produced by the Fijians firsthand, which is one of the main reasons they were added to the competition. It will be interesting to see if the Drua pulls a higher attendance figure for the Vikings following their demolition of the best team in the league.
What are your thoughts on the Fijian Drua and their performances? Comment below!
Highlights of the Round 4 match of the Australian Rugby Championship between the Australian based Perth Spirit and the Pacific Islands-based Fijian Drua.
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