Moana Pasifika beat Hurricanes for 1st Super Rugby win

March 25, 2022 GMT

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Replacement Danny Toala scored a try in the fifth minute of golden-point extra time Friday to give Moana Pasifika its first-ever win in Super Rugby, 24-19 over the Wellington-based Hurricanes.

Coming off a 59-12 loss to the Hamilton-based Chiefs last weekend, the Super Rugby Pacific newcomers were given no chance of beating the Wellington-based Hurricanes despite home advantage.

The other new team in the competition, the Fijian Drua, couldn’t replicate that success, losing 42-27 to Melbourne in a later match which saw the Rebels’ first win of the season.

In Perth, the ACT Brumbies remained unbeaten after six rounds with a narrow 39-38 win at the Western Force.

Though they lacked possession and were camped in their own territory for most of the match, Moana Pasifika matched the Hurricanes try for try and grabbed the crucial score when the match became only the second in Super Rugby to be decided in extra time.

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Moana Pasifika are making their debut in Super Rugby this season, bringing together players from Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. In a checkered season, disrupted by COVID-19, they had played only two matches in five rounds before Friday’s match gave them their historic Super Rugby win.

“We had to work hard from last week and we showed pride and passion,” Moana Pasifika captain Sekope Kepu said. “We worked really hard in the preseason and we knew we had it in us. We just had to string it together tonight.”

The winning try came against the run of play, when replacement prop Tau Koloamatangi forced a critical turnover with Moana Pasifika in deep defense. The ball moved to Toala and he kicked into a vacancy behind the Hurricanes’ defensive line.

Rushing forward, he was able to kick the ball ahead and regain it, diving through the defense to score.

Until that point the teams had exchanged tries, each one answering the other. The Hurricanes had overwhelming advantages of territory and possession in the first half but Moana Pasifika defended and competed superbly.

Possession leveled out in the second half and the Hurricanes found themselves under pressure as often as they had applied pressure in the first half when penalties went against Moana Pasifika 13-1.

All Blacks fullback Jordie Barrett scored the first try of the match after only six minutes, running off a short pass from center Peter Umaga-Jensen and scything through the Moana Pasifika defense to score.

Umaga-Jensen almost made a try for flyhalf Aidan Morgan in the 15th minute but saw it disallowed for a forward pass.

Winger Josh Moorby scored a brilliant try on debut for the Hurricanes in the 56th minute but Moana Pasifika replied in the 65th minute when Levi Aumua dashed down the left touchline to score.

The Hurricanes scored quickly through replacement prop Alex Fidow but Moana Pasifika tied the score at 19-19 with a try to Solomone Funaki three minutes from fulltime.

At Melbourne, the Rebels led the Drua 21-6 at halftime. Tries to Ray Nu’u and Cabous Eloff looked to have sealed the win but the Drua, who beat the Rebels in the third round for their only win this season, refused to give up and scored two tries in three minutes to push the Rebels until the end.

Cameron Orr barged over with minutes remaining to seal the victory, breaking a 10-game losing Rebels streak that extended back to last season.

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