The ACT Brumbies and Queensland Reds yesterday kept their unbeaten Super Rugby Pacific records intact.
The Brumbies cruised past the struggling Melbourne Rebels 36-17 to bag a bonus point, but it was a much harder task for the Reds against newcomers Fijian Drua, who staged an incredible comeback before falling 33-28.
The Reds led 28-9 with 18 minutes left at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane after scoring four unanswered tries.
However, as their defense tired, the Drua pounced with three tries in five minutes to set up a frenetic finish.
A five-pointer three minutes from time by Reds flanker Seru Uru ultimately sealed the game.
“A lot of good footy played, but from our end not executing the final parts of it, and Fiji jumping on errors almost like a New Zealand-style, where a turnover costs you a try,” Reds coach Brad Thorn told reporters.
The Drua lost their opening two games of the season heavily, but bounced back to secure a first win last week against the Rebels before pushing the Reds to demonstrate their caliber.
“Inside our own rooms, we believe we should be here [in Super Rugby],” Drua coach Mick Byrne said. “But we’ve just got to put out performances on the field will be how other people will start judging whether we do or not.”
Fellow newcomers Moana Pasifika’s start has been more chaotic with their third match in four weeks postponed because of COVID-19, this time among their opponents Wellington Hurricanes.
Moana’s first two matches were called off after the virus was detected among a number of their players, before finally making a belated competition bow last week in a 33-12 loss to the Crusaders.
In Melbourne, Wallabies winger Tom Wright scored two of the dominant Brumbies’ six tries in their thrashing of the Rebels, who have leaked 118 points and recorded just 51 in a horror start to the season.
Otago Highlanders are also winless after four games, crashing 32-20 to the Auckland Blues at Albany.
The Blues were missing All Blacks playmaker Beauden Barrett, one of several Auckland stars forced out by COVID-19, and struggled in the first half, going to the break trailing 13-3.
However, they rallied with tries from Rieko Ioane and Stephen Perofeta, as well as a two by rookie back-row forward Taine Plumtree, to earn the hard-fought win.
The NSW Waratahs held off a late charge from Western Force in Sydney to win 22-17 yesterday and move to fourth, seven points behind the table-topping Brumbies.
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