Shades of famous 1995 Rugby World Cup clash as Fijian Drua beat Western Force in farcical conditions

Colin Newboult
Fijian Drua taking on Western Force during 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season.

Fijian Drua taking on Western Force during 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season.

Fijian Drua and Western Force went head-to-head in ridiculous conditions during their Super Rugby Pacific clash on Saturday.

The Pacific Islanders hosted the Australian outfit in torrential rain at Lautoka’s Churchill Park, resulting in several large puddles on the pitch.

It was incredibly testing for both teams and resembled the famous 1995 Rugby World Cup semi-final between South Africa and France.

Making the best of it

Games have been called off in better conditions but, to the credit of the Drua and Force, they did well to make an entertaining match of it.

Tighthead prop Mesake Doge rather understated what the players were facing by calling it “quite muddy”, but the Fijians handled it the better and deservedly went away with a 31-13 triumph.

Although the visitors opened the scoring through Tom Horton, Epeli Momo responded for the hosts as he quite literally caused a splash by touching down.

Five minutes later and Fijian Drua had another ‘splashdown’. This one was even more dramatic as Selestino Ravutaumada went over after good work from scrum-half Frank Lomani.

Iosefo Masi’s then touched down in the second period, while Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula kicked two more penalties to secure the victory.

“As you can see on the field, it’s quite muddy so it’s just about playing smart,” Doge said.

“We can’t afford to go to the five metre [line] and lose the ball, so we might as well as take any opportunity to get points. We just kept running away from the Western Force, who put up a good fight today.”

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Force frustration

Meanwhile, the Force were left disappointed as they suffered their fifth defeat in six games, leaving them at the bottom of the Super Rugby Pacific table.

“Obviously challenging conditions but this will feel like one we look back on and one that got away from us,” Force skipper Nic White said.

“They just played to these conditions a lot better than us. We had plenty of opportunities, we weren’t able to capitalise on the opportunities we were given.

“I thought we started the game really well around a structured game against a side that plays well in unstructured [play].

“They played a more structured game, they kicked to a contest and hit these wide rucks a lot better than us.

“It’ll hurt to look at and one we’re going to have to look at.”

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