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11 November 2022

Fijiana Drua claim Super W title in epic Grand Final

Tuesday 26 April 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Fiji, Regional

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Fijiana Drua claim Super W title in epic Grand Final
Fijiana Drua win the Super Rugby W title in 2022. Photo: Pick & Drive Rugby Podcast]

The Fijiana Drua have claimed their first Super Rugby W title in a thrilling 32-26 victory over the four-time champion NSW Waratahs at AAMI Park in Melbourne..

The game went down to the wire on Saturday as the Waratahs staged a comeback with New Zealand import Natalie Delamare crossing for a hat-trick of three of tries, Rugby.Com reported.

However, the Fijiana Drua refused to give up and backed by a strong Fijian crowd, hit the front with nine minutes to go through Timaima Ravisa.

Vitalina Naikore sealed the win minutes later to claim her own hat-trick in the perfect advertisement for rugby.

With both teams evenly matched to start the game, neither attack could finish their chance as the brutal defence shined in the opening quarter.

Having gone down in their previous clash, the Waratahs' focus on dominating via the set-piece saw Vika Matarugu sent for ten as the Fijiana Drua struggled to stop the rolling maul.

In turn, the Fijiana Drua didn't bother to compete in the scrums or lineouts, simply running the ball at turnover or from penalties every chance they got.

The decision to opt for a five metre scrum came back to haunt Campbell Aitken's side when an errant loose ball allowed the Fijians to flip the field and eventually cross for the first try through Vitalina Naikore.

Natalie Delamare found a response four minutes later but two quick tries to the Fijiana Drua, including a great kick pass from Merewalesi Rokouono to Kolora Lomani allowed them to build a 17-5 lead.

Delamare and the Waratahs' rolling maul got them back into the contest with tries before and after the break as they took a slender two-point lead.

The Fijiana Drua threw everything at a brave Waratahs defensive line as Wallaroos Emily Chancellor and scrumhalf Illseva Batibasaga snagged turnover after turnover.

Eva Karpani's injection came at the perfect time for the defending champions to storm into the lead with 14 minutes to go.

However, the Fijiana Drua kept applying pressure with their trademark fast-tempo game as their electric supporters willed them over the line.

It took a piece of brilliance from fullback Timaima Ravisa to break the game open, racing away and somehow ducking under a Mahalia Murphy tackle to put the Fijiana Drua back in front.

With momentum on their side, Naikore's third try sealed the result and the championship for the Fijiana Drua as they celebrated in emotional scenes at AAMI Park.

Drua 32

Tries: Naikore 3, Radiniyavuni, Lomani, Timaima Ravisa

Con: Rokouono 0/4, Naikore 1/2

Waratahs 26

Tries: Delamare 3, Karpani

Con: Cramer 3/4

Teams:

Fijiana (1-15): Joma Rubuti, Vika Matarugu, Bitila Tawake (c), Jade Coates, Merevesi Ofakimalino, Karalaini Naisewa, Ema Adivitaloga, Sereima Leweniqila, Rusila Tamoi, Merewalesi Rokouono, Vitalina Naikore, Raijieli Laqeretabua, Roela Radiniyavuni, Kolora Lomani, Timaima Ravisa

Reserves: Keleni Marawa, Mereoni Naositava, Sera Seini Ravatude, Akosita Ravato, Teresia Tinanivalu, Rejiele Uluinayau, Vani Arei, Younis Bese

Waratahs (1-15): Emily Robinson, Natalie Delamere, Bridie O'Gorman, Kaitlan Leaney, Sera Naiqama, Piper Duck, Emily Chancellor, Grace Hamilton, Illseva Batibasaga, Arabella McKenzie, Lori Cramer, Pauline Piliae, Georgina Friedrichs, Margot Vella, Mahalia Murphy

Reserves: Faliki Pohiva, Adiana Talakai, Eva Karpani, Sabine Blakeman, Ella Koster, Nicole Nathan, Tatum Bird, Layne Morgan.