Masi bags hat-trick as Drua pip Moana

The Swire Shipping Fijian Drua’s chances of making the top 8 looks slim as they edged Moana Pasifika 47-46 in an entertaining Shop N Save Super Rugby Pacific match at Churchill Park, yesterday.

A total of seven tries was scored by the Drua with inform center Iosefo Masi bagging a hat-trick.

However the side needed a bonus point win as they chase a quarterfinal spot.

The game went right down to the wire with a crucial conversation that could have seen Moana win the match.

Captain Meli Derenalagi says it was a bruising encounter.

“It was a brutal match. We knew Moana Pasifika was going to be tough and we had to fight until the last minute. Hats off to the boys for holding on and we have a lot of weaknesses to work on in the next game.”

The visitors started with a bang, fullback William Havili scored an early try in the 6th minute, setting the tone for an intense encounter.

The conversion was successful, giving Moana Pasifika a 7-0 lead.

However, the Fijian Drua quickly retaliated, led by their skipper, Meli Derenalagi. With sheer determination, Derenalagi barged over the try line, leveling the scores at 7-all.

The game was evenly poised as both teams fought for dominance on the field.

The Fijian Drua showcased their attacking prowess, putting pressure on the Moana Pasifika defense.

It was their robust center, Masi, who displayed individual brilliance, breaking through the opposition’s defense and crossing the try line for their second score.

Drua continued their relentless assault on the Moana side, demonstrating their ability to stretch the defense as fullback Ilaisa Droasese carved open the opposition, securing yet another try.

Lomani’s successful conversion extended the Drua’s lead to 21-7, leaving their opponents with a mountain to climb.

Moana Pasifika, determined to stay in the match, capitalized on a penalty awarded in the Drua’s territory, opting to kick for touch.

Their decision paid off handsomely as prop Ezekiel Lindenmuth crashed over the line, narrowing the deficit to 12-21.

The man who kickstarted Moana’s resurgence, William Havili, left his mark once again with a second try, further closing the gap to 19-21.

The intensity of the battle intensified as both teams fought tooth and nail under the scorching sun of the West, each refusing to yield an inch.

In a thrilling turn of events, Drua conjured up yet another attacking move, resulting in Eroni Sau finding himself free in the corner.

Although Lomani’s conversion attempt fell short, the Drua managed to extend their lead to 26-19.

However, their celebration was short-lived, as Moana’s formidable center, Levi Aumua, unleashed a powerful display of strength, bulldozing his way through multiple Drua players to score a crucial try.

Christian Leali’ifano successful conversion brought Moana Pasifika within touching distance at 24-26.

Moana Pasifika started the half strongly, taking an early lead with a penalty kick by Leali’ifano, putting them ahead at 27-26.

However, the home team, fueled by their pursuit of a top-eight finish, fought back with determination.

Fullback Droasese showcased his attacking prowess once again, crossing the try line for his second try of the match.

Lomani successfully converted the try, allowing the Fijian Drua to regain the lead at 33-27.

With their sights set on victory, the Drua continued to assert their dominance.

Masi, who had been outstanding throughout the match, notched up his second try. The try was flawlessly converted, further widening the gap to 40-27.

Masi, a standout performer, completed his hat-trick, a few minutes later as they increased their lead to 47-27, solidifying their hold on the match.

Nevertheless, Moana Pasifika refused to surrender and in the 67th minute, flyhalf Leali’ifano closing the gap once again, bringing the score to 41-47.

Moana scored a try right on the death after Drua forward Emosi Tuqiri was shown the yellow card.

Moana, who was in the red zone, opted for a line out and crossed over through a rolling maul by Samuela Moli.

Former Wallabies Leali’ifano who only had to kick the conversion to cause an upset, missed the crucial kick as Drua fans erupted with cheers.

They play the Reds next week in Suva.