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Thread: 2024 Final NSW Waratahs W v Fijian Drua W

  1. #1
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    2024 Final NSW Waratahs W v Fijian Drua W

    SRW FINAL TEAM LIST: NSW Waratahs Women vs Fijiana Drua Women

    Wed, Apr 24, 2024, 11:58 AM
    Waratahs Media

    The NSW Waratahs Women have named their side to take on the Fijiana Drua Women in the Buildcorp Super Rugby Women's Grand Final this Sunday at 2:00pm AEST at Ballymore Stadium.

    After a dominant showing in the Semi-Final against the Brumbies, the Waratahs will look to replicate their last performance against the Drua.

    The last time these two teams met the Waratahs left Fiji with a 62-21 victory, however, Head Coach Mike Ruthven is assured his team will not underestimate Drua.

    Hard-working prop Emily Robinson will become the most capped Waratah of all time with her 33rd appearance on Sunday.

    The Drua are gunning for three championships in a row this weekend, whilst the Waratahs will be fighting for their fifth Super Rugby Women's title.

    Match Details
    NSW Waratahs Women v Fijiana Drua Women

    Sunday April 28 at Ballymore Stadium.

    Kick-off 2:00pm AEST.

    The match will be broadcast live and ad-free and Stan Sport.

    NSW Waratahs Women

    1. Brianna Hoy (14 caps)
    2. Brittany Merlo (9 caps)
    3. Bridie O'Gorman (26 caps)
    4. Kaitlan Leaney (15 caps)
    5. Atasi Lafai ( 14 caps)
    6. Leilani Nathan (12 caps)
    7. Skye Churchill (8 caps)
    8. Piper Duck © ( 19 caps)
    9. Layne Morgan (24 caps)
    10. Arabella McKenzie (21 caps)
    11. Desiree Miller (12 caps)
    12. Katrina Barker (30 caps)
    13. Georgina Friedrichs (vc) (23 caps)
    14. Maya Stewart (23 caps)
    15. Caitlyn Halse (12 caps)

    16. Siusiuosalafai Volkman (6 caps)
    17. Emily Robinson (32 caps)
    18. Eva Karpani (23 caps)
    19. Annabelle Codey (4 caps)
    20. Sera Naiqama (25 caps)
    21. Tatum Bird (14 caps)
    22. Waiaria Ellis (6 caps)
    23. Jade Sheridan (8 caps)

    Fijiana Drua Women


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  2. #2
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    Waratahs on cusp of unbeaten season – but they’d rather keep playing

    Iain Payten MSN

    Wallaroos prop Emily Robinson will become the Waratahs’ most capped women’s player on Sunday when the undefeated team takes on arch-rivals Fijian Drua Women in the Super Rugby Women’s decider at Ballymore.

    Two things would make Robinson happy. The first would be denying the Fijiana team a third straight title and, by doing so, winning a record fifth Super Rugby Women’s title for the Waratahs.

    The second is a move that would likely result in Robinson’s NSW cap record (33) being swiftly gobbled up by a younger teammate: a decision from head office to double the amount of Super Rugby Women games in the future.

    “It definitely needs to expand, this comp. It’s been seven years now and it hasn’t changed much, like Fiji obviously have come in,” Robinson, 30, said.
    “But you’ve got to see growth in the game and growth in the players and the only way to do that is to expand.”

    Since the competition began in 2018 – then known as Super W – only NSW (four titles) and the Drua (two) have claimed the premiership.

    The six-team competition remains a sprint, with only five regular-season rounds and two weeks of finals. It is a fraction of the 18-round women’s premiership in England.

    “There needs to be two [halves to the schedule] and I think that the best way to do that from my perspective is to play the first [half], play PAC4, and then come back and play a second,” Robinson said.

    “So if you’re listening, Phil Waugh, that’s my hot tip for you. It’s similar to what they do in the premiership in England. They play their first couple of rounds of the premiership, and then they have a break for Six Nations, and then they come back and play.

    “That only benefits everyone. It will benefit the Wallaroos by having players playing at a higher level more consistently and it will benefit the comp as well. It’s such a sprint.”

    The Wallaroos play in the PAC4 tournament against the US, Canada and New Zealand from April 27 to May 24.

    Fijian Drua Women have largely had the wood on the Waratahs since their entry in 2022, beating them in the grand final that season and then knocking the Tahs out in the semi-final last year.

    The Waratahs have been utterly dominant this season, however, on the back of a powerful pack and the superb form of Bella MacKenzie and Maya Stewart in the backs. They scored 224 points in regular rounds, and conceded just 88.

    In an astonishing performance in punishing conditions, the Waratahs thumped the Drua in Lautoka in 62-21 in round two, but Robinson said the one-sided result did not reflect the game.

    “It was a big score; it was big but the scoreline probably didn’t really reflect the game,” Robinson said.

    “It was 94 per cent humidity and it was crazy. But I was spewing my guts up in the shower at half- time, so I don’t really remember much of the game.

    “You know, that scoreline says nothing about what’s going to happen on Sunday.”

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  3. #3
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    Super W final: Fijian Drua women urged to 'be ruthless' if they want to be three-time champs

    Iliesa Tora, Senior Sports Journalist

    Finals footy is not new to the Fijian Drua women's team.

    Previously known as the Fijiana Drua, the side won the Super W title in 2022 and defended it successfully in 2023.

    Last weekend, under a new name, a new coach and some new players, the side created history by winning their third consecutive semfinal in three years after they defeated the Western Force women in Suva.

    On Sunday, they battle the former champions, Waratahs of New South Wales.

    Played on neutral ground, in Brisbane, the match has the making of a tough but free-flowing rugby match.

    Case in point is the Waratahs thrashed the Drua in Lautoka last month - a comprehensive 62-21 thrashing by he visitors.

    Case in point two, Drua defeated Waratahs in the 2022 final Down Under - a 32-26 victory.

    So the game has come full circle both teams and now they are set to meet in their second final appearance against each other.

    In 2022, it was Senirusi Seruvakula who led the Drua coaching team.

    A feature of that team was their no-stepping back attitude, taking quick taps and taking the opposition on from almost anywhere on the field. A number of those bold moves ended up with memorable tries.

    In 2023, Inoke Male stepped in as coach and mixed the options up. They defeated the Reds, coached by Rauluni then, in the final.

    On Sunday, Drua women have the chance to re-write the history books again.

    Male, who made way for Rauluni this year, said the team have a lot against them.

    "Their chance is slim this weekend," he said.

    "They have some key players our with injuries. One is unable to play because of the cards rulling and they lost to the Waratahs at home this year."

    But that can be an incentive for the side to win, despite all the odds, he said.

    That will require some soul searching and a change in focus and mind.

    "They must take that as advantage and change their attitude towards the game differently," Male said.

    "Minimise time and spaces and be ruthless to the breakdowns.

    "We got everything, if we win the collisions."

    These are basically the same things Rauluni, who is no stranger to his second home in Brisbane, has also highlighted.

    Rauluni and the players are in Brisbane already to finalise their preparation.

    Rauluni said it is going to be a tough game for them, epeically after they were thrashed by the Waratahs.

    He said the players have learned alot since then, adding anything can happen on game day.

    "The girls have learned from that, that playing at home, you know, you've got to do the hard work before anything happens. That day they were way off the mark," he said.

    "I think they've developed really well. New South Wales has been the benchmark team for the whole competition, and everyone's felt their wrath.

    "It's obviously a grand final and a different story. Whoever turns up, and you got to be on song for the 80 minutes. If you're not there's no second chance."

    Rauluni is no stranger to finals rugby having coached the Queensland Reds through to the finals last year. They were beaten by the Fijiana Drua then.

    He said the challenge for the team is taking the right options throughout the game, adding it included knowing when to kick, when to pass and when to take the quick tapes and run.

    "Those are critical decisions they will have to make on the go," the former Flying Fijians captain said.

    One of the areas the team lacked in last week was the goal-kicking.

    Kickable penalties and conversions were missed, with the team losing out on 11 possible points.

    But Rauluni said that he has full confidence in his kickers and believes they will do better this weekend.

    "They have been practising and practising," he added.

    Missing this weekend's final will be big prop Ana Korovata, one of the team's weapons.

    Rauluni said the player had received three yellow cards in a row and therefore gets a one match suspension.

    Her absence will not be an excuse for side as former captain Bitila Tawake rejoined the side last weekend against the Force, following a season with the Chiefs in New Zealand.

    She took the field in the second spell and stamped her mark straight away.

    Tawake is the only change in the team that played the semifinal last week.

    She will be part of what is the first-choice forward pack, which includes Jade Coates, Asinate Serevi, Nunia Daunimoala, Sulita Waisega and captain Karalaini Naisewa at number eight.

    Nippy halfback Setaita Railumu retains her place with her halves combination of Jeniffer Ravutia.

    Speed merchant Atelaite Buna will be the main player at fullback. She scored three tries against the Force last weekend.

    Meanwhile, the NSW Waratahs understand shutting down Buna is crucial in their aim to regain the title.

    The Waratahs return to the final after missing the 2023 edition.

    Captain Piper Duck said it is huge and something they have been working towards for the last 12, if not, 18 months.

    "Our theme is all around trust, not only in ourselves but in what we've done all season and thankfully we have had quite a dominant performance throughout the season," she told AAP.

    "To be able to bring that into that game against a quality side like the Brumbies who played really hard and made us work for it, it was very rewarding but we still have a job to do.

    "We understand that there's still more to do but we're very proud of what we've done so far."

    They will face a red-hot Fijian Drua side in a rematch of the 2022 final, spearheaded by electric outside back Buna.

    Buna has been the find of the season for the Drua, torching the Western Force in their semi-final victory in front of a packed Suva crowd.

    The livewire finished with a hat-trick with 11 tackle busts and four line breaks.

    Waratahs flyhalf Arabella McKenzie said they will need to be smarter with their kicking.

    McKenzie also backed their flyers to match it with the explosiveness of the Drua, with Maya Stewart (11) the leading try-scorer in 2024 whilst Desiree Miller scored a hat-trick in the semi-final win.

    "I think they kicked it back a bit too much and not very tactical," she remarked on the Force's strategy last week.

    "We need to try and hold onto the ball as much as we can and use our strengths, which is our speed and running game.

    "(Our wingers) are phenomenal athletes and it was amazing to see Desi (Miller) come into fruition this year whilst Maya is probably one of the world's best in terms of finishing and setting them up.

    "They're always surprise packages, you never know what you're going to get on any day which can be frustrating to preview a team

    "It just puts all the focus back onto us and how we prepare and train. They've got some amazing players and they always throw a surprise player here and there in so I'm looking forward to the challenge."

    The Waratahs and the Fijian Drua women will meet in Brisbane at 4pm (Fiji time) on Sunday.

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  4. #4
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    NSW Waratahs complete perfect season with commanding win over Fijian Drua

    Sun, Apr 28, 2024, 1:31 PM
    Nathan Williamson

    The NSW Waratahs have claimed their fifth Super Rugby Women's title with a 50-14 win over the Fijian Drua at Ballymore.

    Winger Desiree Miller finished the game with a hat-trick as they built an early lead in the first half.

    The defending champion Drua kept themselves in the game with tries on either side of the break before the class of the Waratahs' superstar players shone through.

    Player of the Match Atasi Lafai, Arabella McKenzie, Piper Duck and Georgina Friedrichs helped to flip momentum and saw the Waratahs run away with the game.

    They scored three tries in seven minutes as Maya Stewart got a double to avenge their defeats in the 2022 Final and 2023 semi-final.

    Two late tries sealed the victory for the minor premiers, who were the only team to finish the season with a positive points difference such was their dominance.

    The defending champions came out physical in the opening minutes but the Waratahs were up for the challenge and caught them with a first half blitz thanks to their speedy wingers.

    It started in the 12th minute when the Drua overthrew their lineout five metres out, presenting a chance for the deadly Waratahs' backline to strike via Miller.

    They rolled down the field as the likes of Piper Duck and Atasi Lafai made major metres. It set up the ruthless combo of Friedrichs and Stewart to combine as the winger went over for her 37th try in Super Rugby Women's.

    With the Drua stunned, Layne Morgan caught them napping after a scrum penalty, reading the situation perfectly to put Miller in for her second.

    The Drua eventually railed and found themselves over the line, only to lose the ball centimetres out.

    The major potential turning point of the match came in the 31st minute as the defending champs went on the attack, with winger Miller batting the ball down to prevent a certain try, the referee awarding the penalty try and giving the flyer a seat on the bench for ten.

    The Waratahs held off until the break with Miller in the bin but couldn’t stop captain Karalaini Naisewa from short, reducing the margin to 17-14.

    As the game hung in the balance, up stepped the Wallaroos core of the Waratahs fuelled by thoughts of previous defeats.

    Flyhalf Arabella McKenzie was the spark, racing into space to set up the opportunity for Skye Churchill to score, however, she was hit high by Adita Milinia.

    The resulting yellow card and penalty try flipped the momentum and centre Fredricchs was influential in putting the game out of reach.

    She broke the line twice in three minutes, setting up Miller’s third before drawing yet another yellow card for a high shot, this time Jenifer Ravutia, engineering the space for Stewart’s second.

    The Waratahs were home when Friedrichs crossed for a well-deserved try, with outstanding lock Lafai bringing up the half century with seven minutes to go

    Tries: Miller 3, Stewart 2, Penalty Try, Friedrichs, Lafai

    Cons: McKenzie 4/7

    DRUA 14
    Tries: Penalty Try, Naisewa

    Cons: Rokouno 1/1

    WARATAHS (1-15): Brianna Hoy, Brittany Merlo, Bridie O'Gorman, Kaitlan Leaney, Atasi Lafai, Leilani Nathan, Skye Churchill, Piper Duck (c), Layne Morgan, Arabella McKenzie, Desiree Miller, Katrina Barker, Georgina Friedrichs, Maya Stewart, Caitlyn Halse

    RESERVES: Siusiuosalafai Volkman, Emily Robinson, Eva Karpani, Annabelle Codey, Sera Naiqama, Tatum Bird, Waiaria Ellis, Jade Sheridan

    DRUA (1-15): Salanieta Nabuli, Keleni Marawa, Bitila Tawake, Asinate Serevi, Jade Coates, Nunia Daunimoala, Sulita Waisega, Karalaini Naisewa (c), Setaita Railumu, Jenifer Ravutia, Adita Milinia, Merewalesi Rokouno, Vani Arei, Merewairita Neivosa, Atelaite Buna

    RESERVES: Litia Marama, Loraini Senivutu, Tiana Robanakadavu, Mereoni Nakesa, Fulori Rotagavira, Evivi Senikarivi, Salanieta Kinita, Repeka Tove

    Referee: Jess Ling

    Assistant Referees: Harry Fenton, Ella Goldsmith

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  5. #5
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    Five thing we learnt from Waratahs - Fijian Drua SRW Final

    Sun, Apr 28, 2024, 1:50 PM
    Lachlan Grey

    The Waratahs are 2024 Super Rugby Women's champions for a fifth time after putting the Fijian Drua to the sword at Ballymore.

    Wing duo Desiree Miller and Maya Stewart scored five tries between them while Wallaroo trio Piper Duck, Atasi Lafai and Georgina Friedrichs were outstanding in sky blue.

    The Drua fought back to within three points shortly after half time but were crippled by ill-discipline with four yellow cards (two of which produced a red to flyhalf Jeniffer Ravutia) proving costly as the Tahs stormed home 50-14.

    Here's what we learnt:

    1. Tahs crowned deserving champions

    It’s been a hell of a ride for the Drua these past two years but it would’ve been a travesty for NSW to miss out on the title this year.

    The Tahs racked up an incredible +136 for-and-against record during their unbeaten regular season before putting ACT to the sword 47-27 in a home semi-final last week.

    Fiji scrapped hard to reel in 17-14 shortly after half-time but couldn't handle the minor premiers' firepower in a second-half blitz.

    The win ends two years of heart-ache for NSW at the Drua's hands following a grand final loss in 2022 and semi final knockout in 2023.

    2. Wing weapons unlocked

    Desiree Miller and Maya Stewart should each have an arm through a gold jersey after producing another match winning turn on the Waratah wings.

    Despite receiving a yellow card and conceding a penalty try, Miller’s hat-trick haul capped a stellar season in sky blue with her second try leaving Aletaite Buna eating Ballymore dust.

    Stewart’s performance was again exceptional, scoring two tries and threatening with every carry, but neither could’ve been unlocked without a strong showing from halves Layne Morgan and Arabella McKenzie.

    Special mention to Georgina Friedrichs, who again stood tall in the #13 jersey with four linebreaks and a try - absolute weapon.

    3. Forward enforcers deliver for Tahs

    It was a whole squad effort from the Waratahs pack to topple their Fijian foes but Piper Duck and Atasi Lafai deserve special mention.

    Duck was devastating with ball in hand and never stopped tackling, including two clutch defensive plays while the Tahs were reduced to 14 women, while try-scorer and Lafai (who was later awarded best on ground by Wallaroos coach Jo Yapp) carried with venom all afternoon.

    They were the difference against a vaunted Drua pack spearheaded by skipper Karalaina Naisewa.

    Bri Hoy also gets a shoutout after earning two scrum penalties and getting through a mountain of work in a 65-minute stint at loosehead prop.

    4. Discipline again costs the Drua

    Take nothing away from the Tahs but Fiji were so often their own worst enemies on Sunday afternoon.

    After fighting their way back to trail by just three points, the Drua conceded three second-half yellow cards and were constantly understaffed out wide.

    Adita Milinia’s penalty try and card in the 51st minute was closely followed by Jeniffer Ravutia’s high shot as the Tahs piled on three tries in a five-minute blitz, which opened the floodgates.

    5. Ballymore crowd delivers the goods Talking this one up a bit...

    Any concerns about a no-show crowd in neutral territory were smashed by a sensational turnout to Brisbane’s home of rugby.

    Official numbers put the crowd at 2522 but it sounded more like 5000 with the horde of Fijian fans putting their voice to good use.

    A healthy turnout of NSW fans smattered along the Paul McLean stand soon found theirs as the clock ticked down to a drought-breaking Tahs title.

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