The Fijian Drua have broken NSW Waratahs hearts with a pulsating 39-36 Super Rugby Pacific win in tropical Lautoka.

Kemu Valetini snapped a field goal seven minutes into golden-point extra time to snatch victory after the Waratahs seemed poised to avenge two deflating two-point home defeats to the Highlanders and Blues.

The Tahs overcame extreme heat and a 16-point second-half deficit on Saturday to set up the tense period of extra time in temperatures exceeding 30 degrees at Churchill Park.

The sapping conditions prompted officials to apply two water breaks in addition to the halftime break.

So when the Drua lost replacement halfback Peni Matawalu to the sin bin for a brain explosion at the ruck early in golden point, the Waratahs enjoyed a significant one-man advantage.

Alas, five-eighth Tane Edmed missed with a drop-goal attempt of his own before Valetini sealed a famous first-time victory for the Drua over the Waratahs.

The Pacific Islanders had lost all four previous meetings with NSW.

But, as evident by their round-two ambush of the defending champion Crusaders, Churchill Park – known as the Drua’s “16th man” – is proving a fortress for visiting teams.

The visitors had made a flying start to lead 10-0 inside the opening 10 minutes.

Flanker Charlie Gamble put hooker Mahe Vailanu over in the fourth minute from a Waratahs lineout win before Edmed converted from the sideline and slotted a penalty goal shortly after.

But just as the Tahs threatened to pull off another runaway win over the Drua, like in their previous four encounters, the inspired home side produced a four-try blitz in the space of 20 minutes to seize control.

Olympic sevens gold medallist Iosefo Masi was at the centre of the fightback.

First he bamboozled World Cup trio Izaia Perese, Mark Nawaqanitawase and Max Jorgensen to score under the posts.
Then, either side of the softest of tries from Drua halfback Frank Lomani from a lineout, Masi collected his second and third five-pointers.

He out-paced the NSW defence for his second and snuck through a hole close to the line for his third as the Drua stormed to a 26-10 halftime lead.

Perese and centre partner Joey Walton combined well to put Gamble over shortly after the break to ignite the Waratahs comeback.

Tevita Ikanivere replied with the Drua’s fifth try before Walton scored to again reduce the deficit to nine points.

With the hosts down to 14 men after replacement forward Kitione Salawa was yellow carded, the Tahs pulled to within a converted try when Vailanu bagged his second five-pointer.

It was all level at 36-36 when Lachie Swinton crashed over with 15 minutes remaining.

But Valetini’s late intervention consigned Darren Coleman’s side to their most crushing defeat yet this campaign of frustrating near misses.

Nawaqanitawase’s milestone 50th game for the Tahs was a largely forgettable one.

Playing in front of his Fijian father’s family, the classy winger spent 10 minutes in the sin bin for a deliberate knockdown to prevent a Drua try in the shadows of halftime and was offered few chances to showcase his silky attacking game.

Head Coach Mick Byrne has lauded his team’s defensive efforts, which was crucial in withstanding a vigorous second-half comeback by the Waratahs.

He says the Drua boys displayed a remarkable defensive performance to secure a thrilling 39-36 golden point victory over the Waratahs at Churchill Park in Lautoka.

“We worked extremely hard in the first half and put ourselves in a good position. Full credit to the Waratahs, they came back in the second half and put us under pressure,” he said.

“I said to the boys, we find new ways to win games of rugby and you can only do it if you dig deep. Waratahs dug deep today and came back in the second half but we were good enough to step across the line,” said Byrne.

Despite the unstructured and tense moments, Byrne commended the younger players on the field for their performance, saying it as a valuable learning experience.

“It wasn’t as structured and composed as it was supposed to be, but we got young men on the field, and they did well. It’s a learning curve for us and the effort was there,”

He also acknowledged the spirit of Fijian fans, who braved through adverse weather conditions to support their team.

“The fans obviously play a big part…to put up with all those in the last fortnight and come out to cheer for the boys, epitomises the spirit of rugby in Fiji. We really appreciate the cheering and support,” Byrne added.

Fijian Drua 39 (TRIES: Masi 3, Lomani, Ikanivere: CONS: Amstrong-Ravula 4; PENS: Armstrong Ravula; DROP GOAL: Valetini) def NSW Waratahs 36 (TRIES: Vailanu 2, Gamble, Walton, Swinton; CONS: Edmed 4; PENS: Edmed)