The NRC’s new boys have taken just two games to create their little piece of history, claiming their first competition win with an excellent display in Melbourne.
Fijian Drua flyhalf Peceli Nacebe finished with a 20-point haul, as the Drua ran in tries from everywhere in a superb seven tries to four, 45-24 win over Melbourne Rising at Harlequin Oval.
“The boys are very happy to come away with the win, especially after a disappointing game last week,” an elated, if exhausted, Drua skipper John Stewart told FOX SPORTS after the win.
“Hats off to the boys for their performance.”
The Fijians had the Rising under pressure from the outset, with flanker Samu Saqiwa crashing over after nice scrum work on the Rising line.
Nacebe, playing flyhalf after wearing the no.15 in Brisbane last week, added the extras as the visitors jumped out to a 7-0 lead.
Former Rising skipper Nic Stirzaker hit straight back for the home side, with Jack McGregor’s curling conversion levelling the scores, and the Rising looked in again only minutes later, only for the TMO to notice the outside edge of James Hanson’s boot on the line as he dived over from a short lineout play.
Both sides showed their early attacking intent, but some patient pick and drive from the Drua was rewarded when the ball found winger Apete Daveta out wide.
The Rising hit straight back again though, with Hanson crashing over out wide to make up for his earlier indiscretion.
There was nothing between the sides for the rest of the half, and though Fiji looked to have scored after 20 phases of more quality pick and drive late in the piece, the TMO couldn’t find any evidence of a grounding.
After the teams were deadlocked at halftime, Nacebe did it all himself immediately after the break, starting a probing in his own half and weaving his way into space before running all the way to the posts.
But again, the Drua couldn’t keep their defence set, with Rising fullback Jack Maddocks finding his way through after some nice interplay from McGregor and inside centre Sione Tuipulotu. Scores were level again.
Approaching the hour though, it just started raining tries at Harlequins, and the vocal Fijian contingent loved it.
First it was Saqiwa getting over for his double after a movement that started back in the Drua’s own half, then Nacebe was in again, finding space and having way too much pace to get away and score his second.
Inside centre Eroni Vasiteri then scored out wide after another wonderful piece of play that started with a chip kick and regather from well in their own half, stunning the Rising defence, and sending the Drua crowd into raptures.
McGregor managed to do enough to convince the TMO he scored only a few minutes later, but hooked the conversion and left his side trailing the Drua 40-24 heading into the last ten minutes.
Daveta then swooped on a grubber kick to score his second with just minutes remaining, and with NRC history sealed, the kava began flowing among the jubilant fans.
Melbourne Rising 24
Tries: Stirzaker, Hanson, Maddocks. McGregor
Cons: McGregor 2
Fijian Drua 45
Tries: Saqiwa 2, Nacebe 2, Daveta 2, Vasiteri
Cons: Nacebe 5