The Fijian Drua’s intimidating home record doesn’t look like going away in 2018 after a 40-17 win over the Rising on Saturday in Suva.
Both teams struggled to keep hold of the ball in the early stages in what was a very tight and scrappy affair before the Drua broke free to notch six tries to three.
The Drua looked like the side most likely to score midway through the first half as they looked to spread the Rising using both wings but a knock on and a misjudged pass meant they couldn’t make it over the line.
It was the Rising who showed the most composure with the ball, building phase after phase inside their attacking 22, but tight defence from the Drua kept them scoreless until Rising skipper Tom English notched the first of the afternoon, scoring a try off a scrum half an hour in.
The hosts swiftly responded a minute later when winger Levani Kurumudu crossed the line.
That seemed to be all the Fijians needed to let loose, flicking the switch before the main break with a fantastic one-two passage of play between Frank Lomani and Alivereti Veitokami, putting the latter over.
The Drua started the second half where they left off, with Apisalome Waqatubu crossed the line to give the home side a 19-7 lead.
Melbourne kept fighting, making an attacking break but once again the final pass went awry.
Their patience paid off again though, with Justin Marsters planting the ball down and narrowing the margin to just one score.
The Drua reacted once again with another fantastic team try, this time off a Cyril Reece run that set Serupepeli Vularika up for another Drua try.
The Rising were caught napping in the 60th minute when replacement Drua flanker Johhny Dyer dived over the line to finish off a great team passage of play.
Fiji inflicted more pain on the Melbourne outfit as Alivereti Veitokami charged down a clearance kick by the Rising who then flicked the ball back into play which allowed Avete Daveta the simple task of planting the ball down, two minutes before full time.
The Rising got a consolation try right at the death when Tom English crossed for his second but at that stage it was already too little too late for the Rising as the damage was done.
The Rising face the Vikings next week with plenty of improvements to be made, while the Drua face Brisbane City.