City survive late Drua scare in NRC opener

by Sam Phillips

A flair-filled Fijian Drua have given Brisbane City a scare, pushing them all the way in the second half before falling 45-36.

City were cruising at 40-12 with 20 minutes to play but the Fijians turned on the jets in the final quarter of the match, scoring four tries to put the rest of the competition on notice.

Cooper and Samu Kerevi were the stars the crowd at Ballymore came to see but Andrew Ready, Lukhan Tui, Moses Sorovi, AJ Alatimu and Ed Fidow were the unsung heroes that came to the fore.

Ready was strong in carrying the football and led the tight five defensively, Tui had the line breaking, offloading package that saw him picked in Michael Cheika's June squad at full tilt, Sorovi's service was crisp all afternoon and in their City debuts, Alatimu and Fidow turned clean ball into points all afternoon.

Fidow was the three-try hero, showing a blistering turn of foot when required to put pinpoint finishes on the end of every attacking movement.Quade Cooper was solid, if not oustanding, for City. Photo: Getty ImagesCooper's return to rugby was a very good one.

He orchestrated the attack with poise, was influential in two tries and there were no long shot plays that killed Queensland's momentum in the back half of the Super Rugby season.

Kerevi was strong in attack and looked to be better for the run against the All Blacks, still shooting out of the defensive line late in match.

While the aforementioned players all had positive afternoons, there were serious allegations laid against Samu Suguturaga.

City skipper Ready accused the Fijian hooker of biting him in a scrum in the first term and followed that up when he spoke to post match.Lukhan Tui was huge. Photo: Getty Images"The hooker turned and bit my ear, as the pressure went on and there is a clear bite mark," he said.

"It's lucky he was wearing a mouthguard, otherwise he would have had the whole thing."

The Fijians were willing in general play but unable to stop the City lineout and they used that as a vehicle to put Ready over for the first of the afternoon, three minutes into the match.

The Drua immediately hit back through a breathtaking try, a wayward Lachlan Maranta pass after a smart counterattacking run finding the turf before Kini Douglas picked up the crumbs and grubbered ahead for Peceli Nacebe, who scored his first of the afternoon.

Fidow matched his back three counterpart with his first almost immediately after, a perfect Cooper ball putting Jayden Ngamanu through the smallest of holes, the fullback finding a flying Fidow for a try in the left hand corner with 13 minutes gone.

Cooper was found wanting in defence seven minutes later, though, missing a tackle to put the Fijians through and Nacebe crossed again, levelling things up at 12-all.Samu Kerevi was in action for Brisbane City. Photo: Getty ImagesCity started to take hold of the match in the second half of the first term and crossed twice in that block of time, Cooper rewarding a hardworking Tui with a great ball to put him over before Michael Gunn scored City's second rolling maul try of the afternoon.

That took the score to 33-12 at half time and that is where things stayed until the 61st minute, Kerevi turning City territory into points when he picked off a Fijian pass and ran under the sticks to make it 40-12.

The Drua pegged the margin back with two stunning tries, one individual effort from Eroni Sau a particularly eye catching individual effort, before Fidow nabbed his third.

This time it was Kerevi running the show as chief playmaker, drawing two defenders and dishing a delicious offload to Maaloga Konelio, who put Fidow over.

The Fijians crossed twice more in the final 10 minutes, pegging the final score back to 45-36.


Brisbane City 45

Tries: Ready, Fidow 3, Tui, Gunn, Kerevi

Cons: Cooper 4, Alatimu

Fijian Drua 36

Tries: Nacebe 2, Voka, Sau, Cavuilati, Reece

Cons: Douglas 2, Nacebe

Yellow Cards: Mudu, Tawake