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Five things we learnt from Reds-Fijian Drua

Five things we learnt from Reds-Fijian Drua

Heart rates went up all over Suncorp Stadium tonight when the Fijian Drua nearly pulled off a massive upset over the Queensland Reds.

The Reds squeaked out of it 33-28 when Queensland’s own Fijian hero Seru Uru scored a late try and stole a Drua lineout on full-time when the islanders were pressing.

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It was a crazy thriller. The Fijians were down 28-9 before scoring three quick tries to lock the scores at 28-all.

So what did we learn?

1. Every fan's second team.

The Fijians are winning wonderful respect for how they play and how they compete.

They add an excitement all of their own to Super Rugby Pacific. Sweet passes, speed, a runaway off a dropped ball turnover and growing confidence were potent ingredients for tries.

They are only four games into their club history with a team pulled from everywhere and they went within minutes of upsetting the Reds.

Their breakdown skills, their poise, their confidence in playing their own rugby...everything is improving and it really showed on a dry night at last.

2. Keep the starters on

Reds coach Brad Thorn might just have learnt a lesson that 28-9 is no done deal against any Fijian side.

Putting on his reserves was always going to loosen the team’s pattern and the Fijians nearly turned it into a major blunder.

3. Petaia at fullback

Look at the upsides first. Playing at fullback definitely created more room for the dynamic Petaia who looked to have made more than 69m from six runs which was one stats readout.

A change of pace made the cover defence look silly for the opening try when he scooted down the right touchline.

A standing start, stop-and-go run was terrific midway through the first half and he made a neat offload to Fraser McReight.

Five things we learnt from Reds-Fijian Drua

He made a brilliant cover tackle on Onisi Ratave to save a try.

As a Wallabies audition, it was not of great value. Petaia was never used with any confidence as a kicker and you can’t be a Test fullback against England or the All Blacks if you can’t be relied on for a clearing kick.

His two kicks were an excellent 40m kick ahead which earned a 5m scrum and a nothing grubber that bounced off a leg.

It’s just a start for Petaia. Don’t yet carried away with him as a Test fullback just yet.Full credit to the Reds who tried to out-Fiji Fiji for the opening 30 minutes of the first half with slick side-to-side passing.

4. Naughty chair upgrade

If rugby is so keen on making yellow cards such a numbing feature of the game, they could at least fund better naughty chairs than the flimsy white plastic ones currently in operation.

Why not have yellow armchairs and sponsor logos?

Seriously, that’s how dreary this yellow fever has become.

Hooker Josh Nasser (no-arms shoulder jolt), prop Harry Hoopert (late shot) and prop Samuela Tawake (dangerous lifting tackle) were all marched in one sequence.

Most fans queried the Nasser yellow card most of all as a shoulder-on-shoulder jolt.

It might be a good lesson for the improving Nasser because he escaped any action in the Roma trial against the NSW Waratahs when a careless jolt left Jamie Roberts with a head knock.

Hoopert knew his tackle was late because he apologised and Tawake just kept going with a good tackle which turned bad with a leg lift and tip.

The greatest spin-off of these endless yellow card exits is the amount of time it takes to send the incidents to the TMO to get a decision.

All the pace the Reds put in the game to tire the Fijians meant nothing when the game stopped at the 32-minute mark. The first half nearly took an hour to complete.

5. Unexpected heroes

The Reds have built such a strong squad that a decisive performance can come from anyone.

Winger Josh Flook had a superb game, starting with his try-saving cover tackle. He was smart in attack and feeding supports.

Likewise, flanker Uru. In the Queensland Rugby Union’s Pasifika Round, how perfectly scripted for the Fijian to score the winning try and grab the lineout steal.

He proudly wore the Fijian flag on the front of his specially-made jersey.

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