Former All Blacks winger Julian Savea has scored two tries in a losing cause to join Israel Folau as the all-time top try-scorer in Super Rugby as the Hurricanes were beaten 27-24 by the Fijian Drua in Suva.
The Drua managed to almost exactly repeat their giant-killing 25-24 win over defending champions the Crusaders in Lautoka in round three to emphasise how difficult they are to beat in Fiji.
Once again replacement Kemu Valetini kicked the winning points for the Drua, just as he did against the Crusaders. He first levelled the scores with a penalty in the 76th minute of Saturday’s match, then put the Drua ahead a minute before fulltime.
“t’s good to be back in the winner’s circle, ” Drua captain Tevita Ikanivere said.
“We’re fighting for a place in the quarter-finals and we have to make the best of these home games.”
Savea took his tally of tries to 60 in 150 matches, drawing equal at that tally with Folau who now plays in Japan.
With a try in each half, Savea tried to lift the second-placed Hurricanes who were under pressue throughout the match and produced a tepid performance in hot conditions.
Savea was matched by his Drua winger opponent Taniela Rakuro who also scored a try in each half.
“We always knew it was going to be tough and we just weren’t good enough,” Hurricanes captain Ardie Savea said.
“The Drua came out and played for the whole 80 and put us under a lot of pressure. They capitalised on their chances and it was hard to defend.”
The first half was fast-paced but low scoring and the Drua mostly had the upper hand. From the first breakdown, Drua scrumhalf Frank Lomani shaped to kick, then passed the ball and sent Rakuro away at a gallop down the left touch.
Lomani was a massive figure, marshalling the Drua attack.
The Drua sought to play the game at pace and test the Hurricanes in the heat. They ran strongly at their opponents throughout with wingers Rakura and Selestino Ravataumada and centre Iosefo Masi prominent.
In spite of the enterprise, points came slowly, but the Drua set the local crowd alight in the 18th minute when Rakuro crossed on the blindside from a Lomani pass.
The Hurricanes finally got some possession and go forward in the 30th minute and quick hands made a try for Julian Savea in the right corner.
The Drua led 7-5 at halftime. The Hurricanes took the lead for the first time with Julian Savea’s second try three minutes into the second half.
Rakuro won back the lead with his second try before the Hurricanes’ forwards took some control and created tries to prop Xavier Numia and flanker DuPlessis Kirifi.
The Hurricanes enjoyed their first comfortable lead at 24-14 but it was reduced it to three points when Meli Derenalagi scored in the 59th minute.
Valetini then decided the match with his two late penalties.