Fijian Drua coach Mick Byrne could barely hide his disappointment after their heartbreaking defeat to the Western Force.
The Drua looked on pace for their second Super Rugby Pacific win when Teti Tela's penalty gave them a one-point lead, holding onto the slender advantage as the siren sounded.
However, the Force found a way to earn a penalty after a remarkable 23 phases of attack, with centre Bayley Kuenzle slotting the game-winner in the 83rd minute.
“It’s a bitter one to swallow there,” coach Mick Byrne said after the match.
“I thought we did enough to wind up with the victory. We just threw the ball away too easy at the end and gave them possession when they are behind and chasing the game.
“We kicked away a couple of easy possessions and a side like that, they’re going to hold onto to ball so we’re either going to give away a penalty or they’ll lose possession.
“Down the other end of the field, that’s probably what we should have been doing.”
Despite the defeat, Byrne was proud of the rapid advancements the side have made in their first month of Super Rugby, praising their physicality and camaraderie.
“I’m proud that it’s our fifth game and we turn up and we met them with some physicality,” he notes “I was pleased with how we met them in our tackles. We carried the ball well, we’re still learning to carry it 15s style and are carrying it a little too high which comes from Sevens experience but we’re getting there.
“It’s been awesome to watch it come together. When you train with the high levels that we do, that helps all that come together. Whilst we’re still early in our careers, it certainly assists the gelling with a lot of good chat and talk out there.”
The Drua turn their focus to the Rebels, the team who they defeated for their first victory.
With this in mind, Byrne was expecting a fired-up Rebels side at AAMI Park, who are searching for their first win of the season.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to travel down there. We were fortunate enough to have a win last time so they’ll be fired up ready to take us on their turf but we’ll be ready to meet them,” he added.
“It’s a short turnaround which is always good after a loss like that, just to get on the horse and go again. We’ll travel back home (Sunday) and before we know it, we’ll be down in Melbourne ready to go again."