Waratahs fightback to defeat Fijian Drua
21 May, 2023, 8:13 am
Young fullback Max Jorgensen showed his playmaking skills as the.NSW Waratahs maintained their late-season Super Rugby Pacific surge with a 32-18 home win over Fijian Drua In Sydney.
NSW secured a fourth straight win, scoring five tries to two to consolidate sixth place.
At times the Tahs appeared to produce plays out of the Fijian playbook with some sensational offloads and one-handed passes, but also had to make twice as many tackles as their opponents.
Jorgensen’s one-handed passes set up first-half tries to his wingers Mark Nawaqanitawase and Dylan Pietsch and he threw a more conventional pass for the match-clinching try to No.8 Lange Gleeson in the 71st minute.
Substitute forward Mahe Vailanu crashed over just before the end to put the Tahs out of sight.
Early on, Fijian Drua five-eighth Caleb Muntz kept his side in the game in the first half with two penalties.
He opened the scoring In the seventh minute but that was the only lead the visitors held.
Three minutes later, good leadup work from flanker Michael Hooper, Pietsch, centre Joey Walton and Jorgensen set up Wallabies back Nawaqanitawase.
Muntz’s second penalty got Drua to within one point and Jorgensen preserved the home team’s lead with a fine try-saving tackle on visiting winger Taniela Rakuro.
A crucial twist occurred right on halftime as two penalties pushed the Tahs deep into Drua territory and Jorgensen put Pietsch over.
Five-eighth Ben Donaldson converted to give NSW a 13-6 lead at the break.
Both sides had good passages early in the second half, but it was Drua who inflicted the first scoring punch.
Hooker Tevita Ikanivere burrowed over for a try which wasn’t initially awarded by referee Ben O’Keefe, but was given after the incident was reviewed.
The highlight of the match came in the 64th minute when one-handed passes from Jorgensen and Nawaqanitawase sent centre Joey Walton down the sideline and he managed to offload just before being bundled into touch, with Nawaqanitawase catching the ball and crossing the line.
Drua weren’t finished, and, roared on by their many supporters, got within two points in the 68th minute when flanker Joseva Tamani pounced on a loose lineout ball and scooted over the line.
The Tahs finished stronger, with Jorgensen passing to Gleeson, who emphatically bumped off a defender and crashed his way over the line, Vailanu doing likewise a few minutes later.
TRIES: Nawaqanitawase 2, Pietsch, Gleeson, Vailanu
CONS: Donaldson 2/5
PENS: Donaldson 1/1
TRIES: Ikanivere, Tamani
CONS: Valetini 1/1, Muntz 0/1
PENS: Muntz 2/2
NSW WARATAHS v FIJIAN DRUA TEAMS
WARATAHS (1-15): Te Tera Faulkner, Dave Porecki, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Jed Holloway, Hugh Sinclair, Will Harris, Michael Hooper, Langi Gleeson, Jake Gordon (c), Ben Donaldson, Dylan Pietsch, Joey Walton, Izaia Perese, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Max Jorgensen
RESERVES: Mahe Vailanu, Nephi Leatigaga, Archer Holz, Ned Hanigan, Charlie Gamble, Teddy Wilson, Mosese Tuipultou, Harry Wilson
DRUA (1-15): Haereiti Hetet, Tevita Ikanivere, Jone Koroiduadua, Isoa Nasilasila, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Joseva Tamani, Vilive Miramira, Meli Derenalagi (c), Peni Matawalu, Caleb Muntz, Taniela Rakuro, Kalaveti Ravouvou, Iosefo Masi, Selestino Ravutaumada, Ilaisa Droasese
RESERVES: Zuriel Togiatama, Emosi Tuqiri, Mesake Doge, Etonia Waqa, Elia Canakaivata, Philip Baselala, Kemu Valetini, Apisalome Vota
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Referee: Stu Curran, Jackson Henshaw