SYDNEY, 16 MAY 2022 (NZ HERALD) —Moana Pasifika will likely be consigned to the wooden spoon in their maiden Super Rugby season after being outclassed by the Fijian Drua Saturday
In the first meeting of the new Pacific Island entrants, Moana Pasifika were given a lesson in taking chances as the Fijian Drua struck from all over the field at CommBank Stadium in Sydney.
The victory was the Drua’s second this season and lifted them five points clear of their fellow new side, leaving Moana with three more games to lift themselves from the foot of the table.
The make-up fixture against the Western Force looms as their best chance to double their win tally in this disrupted campaign, but they will need to be better than they were today.
Moana enjoyed plenty of possession and regularly had their opponents on the back foot but, aside from their formidable maul, were ineffective when in position to pressure their opponents’ line.
Handling errors were costly, preventing the visitors from stretching the defence, but there was a blunt edge when they did keep hold of the ball that limited their attacking threat.
In contrast, the Drua looked capable of striking from anywhere – and often did. A couple of tries owed more to chancing their arm than any formula, but the hosts were clinical enough to take control of the match from just about the opening whistle.
The Drua stamped their mark early with two converted tries in the first 10 minutes. The first was a good example of the danger that Moana lacked from phase play, as Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta applied the finishing touch after a fine break from Kalaveti Ravouvou.
And the second showed the Drua could pounce from deep if given half a chance, as wing Vinaya Habosi scooped up an errant pass and outpaced the defence while racing 60 metres to score.
The home side’s third try also came seemingly from nothing, as Apisalome Vota displayed good hands and a cool head to juggle on the run after getting lucky with the bounce from Teti Tela’s chip.
Moana, on the other hand, were guilty throughout the first half of being too sloppy and lacking composure in possession. But their lineout drive remained an effective weapon and saw them cross twice in the half.
In one of their first forays into the opposition 22, Solomone Funaki cannily disguised his intentions at the back of the maul before breaking free down the blindside and bowling over a defender en route to the line.
And after prop Abraham Pole finished off a more orthodox lineout drive for his fifth try of the season, the maul nearly laid a platform for a third try only for a forward pass to deny Timoci Tavatavanawai on the stroke of halftime.
That left the Drua with a 24-12 lead and it was an advantage they rarely looked like letting slip, as the pattern of the first half largely continued after the break.
Moana did produce one moment of magic to give themselves hope, as Danny Toala uncorked a perfect cross-field kick that left Tavatavanawai to dive over the line.
But that proved an aberration as Vota sealed the victory with his second try in the 70th minute, forcing his way across after another lively run from Ravouvou…..PACNEWS