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Moana Pasifika Won Over Plenty Of Fans On Their Super Rugby Debut

Moana Pasifika Won Over Plenty Of Fans On Their Super Rugby Debut
By Eoin Harrington

Moana Pasifika made their emotional debut in Super Rugby Pacific on Friday against the most successful team in the competition's history, the Crusaders.

The team from the Pacific Islands were formed in 2020 and, after several games were delayed by COVID, they finally got their chance to play in the Southern Hemisphere's biggest tournament on Friday. They gave their famous opponents a run for their money, and won over plenty of new fans with their heart in Friday's game.

Moana Pasifika v Crusaders: Islanders show plenty of potential on Super Rugby debut

Two new teams have entered Super Rugby Pacific this year, with Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua joining the ten Australian and New Zealand-based teams in the competition for 2022.

The scenes from the Moana Pasifika camp were already emotional enough, with Australian international Sekope Kepu named captain in a brilliant video shared by the team in early February.

Having waited two years to work their way into Super Rugby, Moana Pasifika had to wait even longer for their bow in the tournament. They were forced into postponing their opening two games due to a COVID outbreak, leaving them with a daunting opener against the Crusaders on Friday.

Full credit to the newcomers, as they did not hang about from the outset. Incredibly, Solomone Funaki gave the side the game's opening try, with a superb team effort putting the back row over in the corner.

They would go in at the break nine points down to their more experienced opponents and, ultimately, their resolve whittled away in the second half. They ultimately succumbed to a 33-12 loss, but their style of play and spirit won many admirers.

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After the final whistle, the entire Moana Pasifika camp shared a beautiful moment, as they sang the Fijian gospel song 'Eda sa qaqa' in their team huddle.

Despite their ultimate loss, the newcomers to Super Rugby Pacific were instant fan favourites on Friday. Their fellow newbies, Fijian Drua, went one step further in winning for the first time in Super Rugby on Friday, on their third attempt, against the Rebels.

After Friday's round of games, praise was rife on Twitter for Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua. Pasifika's opponents the Crusaders shared a lovely tweet post-match, which commended the Islanders for their heart and defensive efforts.

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After their early exploits this season, it will be fascinating to track where Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika end up in this year's edition of Super Rugby.

With their team spirit and new found fanbases, we can't imagine teams will be looking forward to playing either side.

SEE ALSO: Ireland's 2016 U20 World Championship Finalists: Where Are They Now?

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