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4 months ago

Match Previews

Greg Clark gives his take on the Drua's first performance and how they shape up for Round 2 against the Brumbies.

What a great honour to be in Parramatta last week to witness the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua in their first Super Rugby Pacific match. It really was a dream come true for the Players, Administrators, Fans and Sponsors.

It wasn’t the result all of Fiji was hoping for. The NSW Waratahs were simply too good and too experienced on the night. But it was fine to dream a little going into the opening match.

After all, the Drua’s participation in what is widely regarded as the best provincial competition in the world was long overdue. An upset win first up would have been amazing. It wasn’t to be.

Many of us hoped that the Drua would hit the ground running and transfer their amazing attacking skills into their opening clash against the Waratahs. Instead, they looked to be a bit overawed at times and any structure went out the door.

With the benefit of hindsight, it was always going to take a game or two to get into the swing of things. You can train as hard as you can but it’s not until you get into the real thing that you realise just how fast and physical Super Rugby is.

And you must front up every week. So, I can’t wait to see what the Drua learned from the first up loss to the Tahs. Head Coach Mick Byrne said from day one in camp that he didn’t want to restrict the player’s individuality. He wanted them to play what was in front of them.

But if there is nothing on, set up the next phase. You very seldom score tries from first phase in Super Rugby. I lost count how many times the Drua were inside the Tahs’ half only to turn the ball over or give away a penalty.

New starting prop Kaliopasi Uliulakepa told us this week that the squad has spoken about ‘structure’ in the wash up after the opening game, but he indicated the Drua won’t be turning their back on their traditional game plan. Let’s hope we see less turnovers and more attacking flair.

I was impressed with the way the Drua finished the game. They were on top in the last ten or so minutes and that should give them some belief as they prepare to take on the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday afternoon.

GIO Stadium has been a fortress for the Brumbies and like the Drua, they have plenty to work on this week despite gaining a hard-fought win over the Western Force last week.

Both sides have made changes this week. The Drua have three new starters in the pack, a couple in the backline and a few on the bench. The Brumbies have a more settled squad and they’ll be out to shut down the Drua’s attacking threats just like the Waratahs managed to do.

I’m expecting an improved effort from Nemani Nagusa’s men. It’s been a standard build up this week. They haven’t had to wait an entire pre-season to prepare for this week’s encounter. They should be more relaxed.

It’s another tough away game, and as the Drua found out in week one, there’s no such thing as an easy game in Super Rugby Pacific. Onwards and upwards. Bring on the improvement.

Watch the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua Live


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