Live updates: Super Rugby Pacific - Highlanders v Fijian Drua at Suva's ANZ Stadium

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Fijian Drua - 24          Highlanders - 27    

FULLTIME - Click here for a full wrap and highlights.

80th min - Landers hold up the Drua maul and force the scrum turnover. They'll pack this 15m from the Drua line, and this one is likely over.

79th min - Turnover at the ruck! Fakatava bangs one deep and finds touch inside the Drua 22m. Huge play.

77th min - Grubber in behind, Garden-Bachop cleans up. Landers clear back to the Drua 10m but they go quickly, back inside the Landers' half.

75th min - Landers can't cash in on the drive and concede a penalty. Drua tap and go quickly, out to their own 10m. They win a penalty, lineout near the Landers' 22m.

73rd min - Landers work through the phases until they're awarded a penalty right in front of the posts. Again, they turn down the points for a 5m lineout drive.

71st min - Clever kick over the top by Fakatava, Drua fumble it into touch. Lineout Landers inside the Drua 22m.

68th min - Huge hit forces the ball free from Garden-Bachop's grasp. Drua swarm but a forced pass goes to ground. Landers scrum just outside their 22m.

66th min - Finally some field position for the Drua in this second half. Lineout at the Landers' 22m. They throw long but the referee says it wasn't straight. Landers scrum.

61st min - TRY HIGHLANDERS to Rhys Marshall

They backed their lineout drive and it paid off, with Marshall putting the finishing touches on the maul for the Highlanders' first lead of the game. Hunt converts. (Highlanders 27-24)

60th min - Penalty Landers right in front of the posts. They turn down a gift three points to opt for the 5m lineout.

58th min - Bold attempt to counter-attack from their own 22m by the Drua but the pass outside rolls forward. Scrum Landers, more attacking ball.

56th min - Lienert-Brown does well to create an overlap on the right but Gilbert is hit hard and his pass drifts forward. Stoic defence by the Drua tonight. Scrum 15m out from their own line.

55th min - Landers steal the lineout and clear. Drua don't get much purchase on their retuning kick and the Landers have a chance to attack, 22m out.

53rd min - Aerial ping-pong ends in a big defensive push at a ruck and a Drua penalty. Lineout at the Landers 22m.

51st min - Slippery pill causing some issues out there. Smith sees some space in behind, kicks deep and forces a Drua goal-line dropout.

Drua win a defensive penalty, they move to a lineout at halfway.

48th min - Landers win a penalty and they look to cut into the deficit with a shot at goal, 30m right in front. Hunt slots it. (Drua 24-20)

45th min - Gregory knocks on after some promising phases of attack. Drua scrum near their 22m.

43rd min - Drua look to counter, final pass sails into touch. Landers lineout at the Drua 10m.

41st min - Hunt gets us restarted. Mistake by the Drua as they look to run it from deep. Landers return the favour with a knock-on, scrum Drua at their 22m.

Second half underway...


40th min - Penalty Drua. This looks very kickable, 22m virtually in front and Tela will step up for a shot. Sends it down the middle to take us to the sheds (Drua 24-17)

38th min - Wow, you don't see that everyday. Aaron Smith fumbles on the pick-up at the back of the scrum. Drua will have one last crack before halftime.

35th min - Drua scrum 10m inside the Landers half. Drua work through the phases, defence holding up well. 10 phases deep and Drua fumble after failing to make any territorial gain. Scrum Landers at their 10m.

32nd min - TRY HIGHLANDERS to Marino Mikaele-Tu'u

The No.8 just overpowers the defensive line, bursting through two defenders to dive in under the bar from 10m out. (Drua 21-17)

31st min - Penalty Landers. They'll throw a 5m lineout. 

29th min - Highlanders pack down a scrum just inside the Drua half. The crowd are reacting to every minute piece of action, incredible atmosphere.

23rd min - TRY DRUA to Kalaveti Ravouvou

Teti Tela spots a gap in behind the defence and grubbers for Ravouvou to cash in on Habosi's big break. Conversion is over. (Drua 21-10)

22nd min - Habosi breaks again! Brought down 10m out from the tryline.

19th min - Penalty Highlanders deep in the Drua half. Hunt will call for the tee here, shot at goal from 22m on a slight angle. Bangs it over. (Drua 14-10)

15th min - TRY DRUA to Vinaya Habosi

Amother brilliant counterattack after a turnover at the ruck, with Habosi scorching 70m down the left flank to go in under the black dot. (Drua 14-7)

13th min - Landers feed a scrum in the middle of the paddock.Chip in behind, Drua under pressure. Garden-Bachop breaks on the kick return, Landers at the 22m.

8th min - TRY HIGHLANDERS to Sam Gilbert

Simple draw and pass to take advantage of an overlap from a metre out and Gilbert does the honours in the corner. Hunt converts from the sideline. (7-7)

5th min - Mistake under pressure and the Landers have a chance to quickly respond from a 5m scrum.

2nd min - TRY DRUA to Frank Lomani 

What a start for the locals! Lomani is on hand to finish off a 60m counter attack under the posts and the crowd is going bezerk. (Drua 7-0)

1st min - The Drua get us started here in Suva. They go deep from the kick-off, Hunt puts it immediately into touch near halfway.

Knock-on at the lineout, Landers scrum.

We're underway...

4:34pm - Out run the local heroes and the stadium explodes to life. Both teams set to exchange pre-game challenges, this will be loud.

Fearsome stuff from both sides, what a way to set the scene.

4:32pm - A sold-out national stadium in Suva is looking a picture in the trademark Fijian sun. Here's hoping their team can deliver on the occasion.


Kia ora, good afternoon and welcome to Newshub's live coverage of the Super Rugby Pacific clash between the Highlanders and Fijian Drua at Suva.

Last week, New Zealand's lowest-ranked team provided Australia with at least one win in the trans-Tasman crossover format, matched against the top-ranked Brumbies, and now they have their work cut out facing the Pacific newcomers on their home turf with a parochial crowd roaring them on.

The southerners have had a luckless campaign so far, with their only victory so far coming against the other expansion side - Moana Pasifika - so this fixture looms as crucial to their chances of moving into playoff contention.

Significantly, they have captain Aaron Smith back at halfback, after missing the Brumbies clash, while Mitche Hunt returns to first-five, after starting at fullback.

No.8 Marino Mikaele-Tu'u is also back in the pack, as part of a completely new loose forward trio, with Billy Harmon and Christian Lio-Willie.

TAB Odds: Highlanders $1.25, Drua $3.70

Highlanders: 1-Daniel Lienert-Brown, 2-Andrew Makalio, 3-Jermaine Ainsley, 4-Bryn Evans, 5-Sam Caird, 6-Christian Lio-Willie, 7-Billy Harmon, 8-Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 9-Aaron Smith, 10-Mitch Hunt, 11-Scott Gregory, 12-Fetuli Paea, 13-Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 14-Sam Gilbert, 15-Connor Garden Bachop

Reserves: 16-Rhys Marshall, 17-Ethan de Groot, 18-Josh Hohneck, 19-Max Hicks, 20-James Lentjes, 21-Folau Fakatava, 22-Marty Banks, 23-Hugh Renton

Drua: 1-Haereiti Hetet, 2-Mesulame Dolokoto, 3-Manasa Saulo, 4-Viliame Rarasea, 5-Ratu Rotuisolia, 6-Meli Derenalagi, 7-Vilive Miramira, 8-Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 9-Frank Lomani, 10-Teti Tela, 11-Vinaya Habosi, 12-Kalaveti Ravouvou, 13-Apisalome Vota, 14-Selestino Ravutaumada, 15-Kitione Taliga

Reserves: 16-Tevita Ikanivere, 17-Meli Tuni, 18-Samuela Tawake, 19-Isoa Nasilasila, 20-Joseva Tamani, 21-Simione Kuruvoli, 22-Onisi Ratave, 23-Kitione Ratu

Fijian Drua fired up for Super Suva homecoming against Highlanders

Fijian Drua's debut Super Rugby season has been a baptism of fire for the expansion side, but spirits are high among the playing group bnefore Saturday's emotional homecoming at Suva against the Highlanders.

One of two Pasifika teams to join the competition this year, the Mick Byrne-coached Drua were camped on the east coast of Australia for the first part of the season to avoid logistical challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barring a joyous 31-26 win over the Rebels in round three, they have struggled against experienced Australian and New Zealand opponents.

Their 35-18 loss to the Blues at Melbourne over the weekend was their eighth defeat from nine games, leaving them second-from-bottom of the competition, just ahead of the other expansion side Moana Pasifika.

However, for a team built from scratch with only a few seasoned professionals, the Drua have far from embarrassed themselves and the Fijian capital is buzzing for Saturday's clash at the National Stadium, the team's first on home soil.

"It's been awesome, just all of the support the Fijian people have been showing," Drua lock Isoa Nasilasila said.

"It's a pretty crazy experience, to be honest, people coming up for photos and autographs all the time. We're expecting all the tickets to be sold out."

Rugby-mad Fiji has long exported its brightest talents, while missing out on the professional pathways available in richer, foreign markets.

Fijian Drua celebrate
Fijian Drua celebrate. Photo credit: Getty

The Drua, who played in Australia's defunct lower-tier National Rugby Championship and won the title in 2018, now offer an incentive for local players to develop their game much closer to home.

The Drua's inclusion in Super Rugby has also hitched a ride on the wave of support generated by Fiji's world class sevens programmes and Olympic success.

The Fijian men defended their Olympic sevens gold at Tokyo last year and the women took bronze.

The rapid development of the women's 15's programme has also been a source of pride, with Fijiana Drua claiming Australia's top club championship over the weekend, with victory over the Sydney-based NSW Waratahs in the Super W final.

The team's dominance of Australian opponents bodes well for Fiji's hopes of making an impression at their debut women's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in October-November.

On the men's side, Fijian Drua's tough introduction to Super Rugby may ultimately add depth to the country's squad for the World Cup in France next year as more players are exposed to elite competition and coaching.

Fans will get a sense of Drua's development against the Dunedin-based Highlanders, who also have a 1-8 record and are the worst performing among New Zealand's five established teams.

Win or lose, the home side will rejoice in playing their usual brand of running rugby in front of family and friends.

"For some of them, it's been 6-7 months since they've seen their wives and children," said Nasilasila of his teammates.

"It'll be a hard, brutal game, but we'll be playing our natural game, because we know that's what the fans want."