The Queensland Reds have fallen 41-17 to a strong Fijian Drua outfit in Round 15 of Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific.
In front of a packed crowd at HFC Stadium in Suva, the Drua ran in three tries to none in a second-half blitz to book their maiden finals appearance in their second year in the competition.
Queensland will make the finals if minor premiers the Chiefs are to defeat the Western Force in Perth tonight.
A charge-down saw Drua fullback Selestino Ravutaumada open the scoring in the third-minute, Caleb Muntz’s conversion giving the hosts a 7-nil lead.
Queensland hit back quickly, Ryan Smith scoring a pick-and-drive try from close range in his return to the side. James O’Connor converted to even the scores in the ninth-minute.
The Drua had their second in the 17th minute when Kalatevi Ravovou went over out wide, but the Reds again responded with a try of their own. Fraser McReight was the scorer, the backrower diving over after a dominant rolling maul pushed Queensland towards the Drua line. O’Connor made it two-from-two off the tee to give his side a 14-12 lead at the 24-minute mark.
An O’Connor penalty extended the Reds’ advantage to 17-12 in the 28th minute, before the Fijians found the line for their third through Vilive Miramira to again even the ledger at 17-all at the half-time break.
Frank Lomani kicked his side back into the lead with a penalty in the 44th minute, with McReight shown a yellow card two-minutes later to reduce Queensland to 14-men.
The Drua capitalised with a try to Mesake Doge, Lomani’s conversion putting the score out to 27-17 with 28-minutes remaining.
Tevita Ikanivere intercepted a loose Reds lineout throw to score and extend the Fijians’ advantage to 34-17 at the 60-minute mark, before a runaway try to Joseva Tamani put the finishing touches on a 41-17 win for the home side.
Queensland’s finals hopes hang in the balance, with the Reds needing the Chiefs to beat the Force in Perth tonight to make the top-eight.
Fijian Drua 41
Tries: Selestino Ravutaumada, Kalatevi Ravovou, Vilive Miramira, Mesake Doge, Tevita Ikanivere, Joseva Tamani
Conversions: Frank Lomani 2, Caleb Muntz, Kemu Valetini
Queensland Reds 17
Tries: Ryan Smith, Fraser McReight
Conversions: James O’Connor 2
At HFC Bank Stadium, Suva on Saturday 3 June, 2023.