Talofa lava, Malo lelei’i Bula vinaka and welcome to TEIVOVOrugby – I’m Culden Kamea.
This is my weekly podcast on the Fijian Drua, Moana Pasifika and other teams in the Super Rugby Pacific 2023 competition, plus Team Fijiana of course when they start defending their Super W title in Australia this year.
Super Rugby Super Round 2 at AAAMI Park in Melbourne is all done and dusted and to be honest, I think all teams still have a ways to go before one can honestly say they are playing serious super rugby.
The Crusaders smacked the Highlanders silly 52-15 with a couple of tries from 5M lineout drives – which is allowable in my book of rugby sins and a brilliant length-of-the-field breakout try sparked by Richie Rich Mo’unga!
It wasn’t until Highlanders replacement All Blacks halfback, Fakatava came on in the second half did the Highlanders score a couple of Tries to save face.
The Chiefs started in spectacular style against Moana Pasifika, scoring directly from the kick-off in under 10 seconds, followed by a rampaging run by big Number 8, Pita Gus Sowakula for their second, and it was pretty much all one way traffic with Shaun Stevenson, Damian McKenzie and Brad Webber also scoring for a 38-3 halftime lead.
As expected, Moana Pasifika did fight back to 22-45 but Shaun Stevenson got his third try and it ended 52-29 in the end.
The Fijian Drua versus New South Wales Waratahs clash was a game of two halves, with the lead changing hands a number of times in a keenly contested game which was locked 10-10 at halftime.
Jone Tiko was unlucky to be Yellow-carded for attempting a low tackle. I thought that he was bringing his arms into it, before a heavy knock to his head by the ball-carrier’s knee, put an end to that.
Fijian Drua Captain fantastic, Tevita Ikanivere scored again off a perfectly set-up 5M line out drive, which gave them the lead again 17-10.
The Tahs came fighting back of course and snatched the lead back, setting up a big final quarter, which sadly was never to be; after the contest was taken out of the game with another Yellow card against the Fijian Drua leaving 13 men against 15 and no pushing in the scrums. The game dwindled down to a non-event at 46-17 to the Tahs.
Another team of interest for the Wallabies new Head Coach, Eddie Jones was the Queensland Reds. He was spied hiding among the Fijian Drua fans with writing pad in hand, which some nosey parker snapped and uploaded on social media – what else?
Anyway, apart from the Reds absolutely caning the Force 20-71, Fast Eddie would have been impressed by the raw speed of Filipo Daugunu, who scampered in for two tries, and the not so fast, Suliasi Vunivalu who was caught from behind right on the try line, after an intercept and length of the field dash with a burst of cramps right at the end!
The key takeaway for me from Round 2 was the importance of kickers. If you want to win games consistently in this comp, your kickers must be consistently very good.
To Round 3 and Fiji-born All Blacks, Sevu Reece and George Bower are expected to start for the Crusaders against their fellow countrymen this weekend, when the champions take on the Fijian Drua on Saturday at Churchill Park in Lautoka, Fiji.
Last time they played, in 2022 in Christchurch, the Crusaders crushed the Fijian Drua 61-3 scoring nine tries mainly out wide on the left wing, after building pressure inside through their forwards.
Can we expect much the same from Scott Robertson this time?
Probably – the Crusaders will stick to their structured game and systems, making it very tough for the Drua.
Having said that, the crazy home fans support, the burning western heat, and a rampaging Fijian Drua side will no doubt have a big say in the outcome of this game.
For TEIVOVOrugby, I’m Culden Kamea.
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