Editorial comment | A nailbiter in the end

Iosefo Masi sprints away for a try for Fijian Drua against Moana Pasifika during the Super Rugby clash at Churchill Park in Lautoka yesterday. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

What a joy it was to see the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika run the ball yesterday on firm underfoot conditions at Churchill Park in Lautoka in Round 14 of the Super Rugby Pacific competition.

The teams obviously loved the intensity, and the fans loved the show.

In the end it was a classic display of running rugby at its best, filled with Pacific rivalry, fierce competition, and a lot of hard knocks along the trenches.

They both took the opposition defences head on and the clashes added a touch of excitement for the fans on a lovely day for rugby.

Leading 26-24 at the breather, the Drua were expected to comfortably defeat Moana Pasifika.

The tale of the afternoon was one of a closely fought battle which ended with Moana pivot Christian Leali’ifano left to decide the Drua’s fate.

As fans collectively raised their voices and chants to unsettle Leali’ifano in the final minutes of the game, the former Australian Wallaby missed the conversion that could have been the decider for his team, effectively ending the game at 47-46 in favour of the Drua.

It was a nailbiter to the end, and a game fans will savour for some time, especially the brilliance that was on display by our midfield backs led by the exciting Iosefo Masi at centre.

There was an expectation that the match would be hard fought, a hallmark of Pacific clashes, and it lived up to that.

The tackles were bonecrunching, and the defensive shapes were tested by some hard runs through the middle and on the fringes of the rucks.

There were touches of brilliance from both sides which kept fans on edge.

Drua head coach Mick Byrne now has his work cut out as the Drua prepare to face the might of the Reds in their final game next weekend at the National Stadium in Suva.

It is clear that they will need to work on their defence around the rolling maul, which kept pressure on the Drua inside their 22m zone.

But the fact that there is hope for the Drua if they defeat the Reds should be the catalyst coach Byrne needs to motivate the side leading up to the all-important clash.

The defeat of the Reds to the Highlanders, and the Melbourne Rebels defeating the Western Force this week have given Drua fans hope.

The onus though will be on the Drua to patch up loopholes in their defence that were highlighted by Moana Pasifika, and find the confidence to defeat the Reds at home.

But what a game.

And what a show by Masi at centre yesterday!

We say go Drua, go!

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