The Fijian Drua made history winning their maiden National Rugby Championship title on Saturday, just two years after entering the Australian competition.
The Drua, the development side for the Flying Fijians Test team and the great entertainers of the 2018 NRC, beat Queensland Country 36-26 in front of a sizeable crowd at Churchill Park in Lautoka, Fiji.
It was a fitting end to a dominant campaign from the Drua this season. They secured the minor premiership, dropping just one game from seven, and wowed fans with plenty of attacking flair and fancy footwork.
Queensland Country were the only side to beat the Drua this year and made it to within a converted try of their hosts with 10 minutes to go, but a penalty goal to NRC Rising Star of the Year, Alivereti Veitokani, sealed victory, five tries to four.
Drua lock Albert Tuisue had a blinder, scoring two tries, and teammates Eremasi Radrodro, Peni Naulogo and Veitokani added their own five-pointers. Fullback Apisalome Waqatabu converted all but one of their efforts and No.10 Veitokani added the three points with two minutes to go.
Chris Feauai-Sautia, Filipo Daugunu and Efi Maafu also scored for Country on a slippery and heavy pitch, which had received a drenching shortly before kick-off. Reds five-eighth Hamish Stewart slotted three from four conversion attempts.
The match will be celebrated across the Fijian archipelago, as the team emerged as one of the success stories of the oft-criticised NRC. Rugby Australia are in talks with World Rugby to add a Samoan or Tongan team in coming seasons.
In NSW the questioning will begin, as NSW Country and the Sydney Rays finished bottom of the table in seventh and eighth respectively.
Fijian Drua 36 (Tries: Tuisue 2, Radrodro, Naulago, Veitokani; Cons: Waqatabu 4; Pens: Veitokani) def Queensland Country 26 (Tries: Feauai-Sautia, Petaia, Daugunu, Maafu; Cons: Stewart 3).