15 Mar 2023

Moana Pasifika looking for repeat win over the Brumbies

10:23 am on 15 March 2023
New signing Miracle Fai'ilagi in the Pasifika's change strip against the Western Force at the weekend

New signing Miracle Fai'ilagi in the Pasifika's change strip against the Western Force at the weekend Photo: Moana Pasifika

Moana Pasifika's head coach rued last weekend's game Super Rugby Pacific against the Western Force but vowed to learn from the defeat as they gear up to face the Brumbies this weekend.

Pasifika lost beyond the final siren, 21-18 at HBF Park in Perth.

Western Force were awarded a scrum penalty after the final siren which Bryce Hegarty from eight metres in front off the sticks, scored to give the Western Australia side the victory.

"It's one we let slip," Moana Pasifika coach Aaron Mauger admitted.

"We've got to be better in those moments. We couldn't execute our basics. It's hard to play when you're not catching the ball."

To make it worse for Moana Pasifika, when the score was tied at 18-18 with seven minutes to play the Force had Ollie Callan red carded and three minutes later Siosifa Amone was shown the yellow card.

Rather than wilting with 13 men the Force instead lifted themselves up to secure the win.

"That hurt the boys even though we were good on defence and that is key to how you play, the defence of your team has to be good," said Pasifika defence coach Dale MacLeod.

It began so brightly too when Moana Pasifika took just 28 seconds to touch down on Saturday night when a series of sharp passes allowed Fine Inisi to score.

In the 25th minute Pasifika hooker Samiuela Moli touched down from a rolling maul.

However, prop Sueten Asomua was yellow carded shortly before half-time, and Force hooker Folau Fainga'a scored on the very next play.

Scores were level in the 61st minute when the Force swung it wide after a rolling maul and George Poolman touched down in the corner.

The sideline conversion was missed, and the Force were down to 14 men when Callan was sent off in the 73rd minute for a no-arms tackle that resulted in his shoulder colliding with his opponent's head.

Amone joined him on the side-lines a few minutes later for a high hit, but the Force kept pushing for the win and finally got the result.

Brumbies a tough one

Moana Pasifika are without a win this season and are 0-3 down going into their fourth game against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday night.

Last year they beat the Brumbies 32-22, however this year the Brumbies are unbeaten including a 25-20 win over the Blues.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham, returning to coach the Brumbies after a stint with Irish province Munster, couldn't be happier with the run into this game.

The reinstated coach praised his predecessor Dan McKellar for giving him an armchair ride into this season's Super Rugby Pacific championship.

He paid tribute to McKellar in the wake of their bruising 23-17 win over the Queensland Reds.

"So it's an armchair ride at the moment. Like, Dan set up everything perfectly," said Larkham.

"I'm just sitting here with the other coaches letting the players do the job.

"We've got a really good playing group at the moment, we've got unbelievable staff and it is really good place at the moment, this organisation."

But as the Fiji Drua showed with their last-gasp 25-24 win over the Crusaders at the weekend, anything is possible and the Brumbies will do well not to underestimate Moana Pasifika.

Dale MacLeod said the Fiji Drua's win would prove an inspiration to Moana Pasifika this week.

"It goes to show anyone can beat anyone on their day," MacLeod said.

He was expecting a torrid game against the Brumbies.

"They are well organised, have a very good defence and I wasn't surprised when they beat the Blues.

"They are well coached and they will come at you on attack, their 9 and 10 Nic White and Noah Lolesio are very good.

"It will be a different challenge but one we must be ready for all the same."

Aaron Mauger was an assistant coach for Moana Pasifika's match against the Māori All Blacks.

Aaron Mauger Photo: PHOTOSPORT