Super Rugby Pacific | Crusaders drown Drua

Fijian Drua player Haereiti Hetet in action against the Crusaders in last night’s quarterfinal match at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday, June 10, 2023. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

The Swire Shipping Fijian Drua went down fighting to a clinical Crusaders side 49-8 at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch last night.

The Drua reached the Shop N Save Super Rugby Pacific quarter finals in only their second year in the competition but the reigning champions reclaimed their dominance, avenging a 24-25 loss at Churchill Park, Lautoka earlier in the year.

The Crusaders were first to register points with two tries in the first five minutes of the game through prop Oli Jager and hooker Codie Taylor.

Flyhalf Richie Mo’unga converted them successfully with a 21- nil lead in the first 20 minutes until the Drua replied through a penalty converted by Frank Lomani.

Flanker Sione Havili added to their tally, scoring a try under the posts with another kick in from Mo’unga taking them 28-3 before an intercept from Drua winger Selestino Ravutaumada to keep their hopes alive in the 34th minute with Lomani missing the extras.

Both teams went into the sheds at 28-8 at halftime.

The home side came out firing in the second spell and nullified the Drua’s attacking prowess.

Crusaders skipper leading the charge with a try in the 44th minute with Mo’unga having a good night with the boot, with a 35-8 lead.

The Drua had a lot of opportunities but did not find enough momentum to keep them rolling and the Christchurch-based side really penalised them at the breakdowns.

Fullback Will Jordan finally got his name onto the score sheets in the 65th minute after being disallowed a try in the opening minutes of the second half and Mo’unga taking them up to 42-8.

Replacement halfback Willie Heinz scored the last try of the match under the sticks with Fergus Burke grabbing the final points of the match.

Drua skipper Meli Derenalagi said he was happy of the way his team mates played last night, having a taste of what it means to be in the playoffs.

“Firstly, I’d like to thank God for his guidance this season, in bringing us to the playoffs in only our second year in the competition,” said Derenalagi in a post-match interview on television.

“It’s a major learning for us coming into the playoffs and we’ve learnt so much on how to stay composed at this level of the competition.

“In the first 20 minutes, we didn’t start well but in the 60 minutes after that, I know the boys stood up and showed why we deserved to be in this competition.”

Derenalagi also thanked their supporters who turned up in numbers to cheer them on in Christchurch.

“We want to thank Super Rugby for including us in this competition,” he said.

“To the fans, thank you for coming out in numbers and also Fiji Airways for the flight from Nadi to Christchurch.

“Our fans came in numbers to cheer us on in Christchurch.

“A big vinaka vakalevu to our fans back home for always backing us up and we will come back stronger next season.”

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