Tokyo Gaijin 0 Donkey RFC 21

ImageThe Tokyo Gaijin?s brave charge at Tokyo Cup final glory came to an abrupt end on another rain-sodden day at the river-side Kizooch field. The semi-final, two weeks ago at the same mud-soaked venue, had left regular half-back Takashi Mutou with a dose of Weil?s disease. This sneaky bacteria, which kept Takashi out of the final, is secreted in the urine of rats, and there was clear evidence of rat?s urine on the pitch in the way the Gaijin played this game's first five minutes.

The fired-up Donkey forwards immediately disrupted the Gaijin re-cycling of the kick off.  When the ball was eventually scrambled out under pressure, it was re-claimed by the Donkey flankers, then spread wide for a try in the opposite corner in the first move of the match. It couldn?t have got much worse. Except it did.

Within five minutes, Donkey had crossed the line again. Captain Joe Fisher had some re-motivating to do, and as the Gaijin formed up for a second time under the posts, he suggested the club could play better than this, and he was right. However, with new formations in the centre and at half-back, against disciplined and determined opponents, the Gaijin were always going to struggle to keep moving forward.

In fact, Donkey turned out to be a superior unit in the line-outs, the scrums, the mauls, the rucks, and they were pretty useful in the backs, too. Apart from that, we could have had them rattled, but well done, Donkey. Crazy name; effective team of hardened operators (and perhaps Donkey means something different in Japanese.)

It was to the Gaijin?s credit that despite this disastrous start, and long spells of defending, the team only conceded one more try and two penalties. The determination not to fall apart under pressure was admirable, and there was a steel core in adversity that ran through the heart of the team. Mark Pearson, with gritted teeth, had another afternoon of understated excellence, and Yukio Suyama at hooker brilliantly infuriated the opposition by making himself a constant nuisance round the fringes.

The line-outs are a problem that one day the Gaijin may solve, but Mike Taylor battled on against the odds, and his partner in the second row, Mauro Sauco, grows in confidence and controlled rage with every game. Todd The Body Collins, with only limited chemical help, kept his wheels turning almost as fast as the dynamic So Nagashima, who was sidelined in the second-half with a nasty bang to the leg. His replacement Chris Lucas then came on to make definite progress towards the go-forward player he?ll one day become. With all this effort going on around him, for so little reward, the talismanic Joffa Harris just about kept it together, even when the sky, the gods, the ball itself seemed arraigned against him.

Out in the backs, this was a day for scurried defence and tackles. Jyoh Iwasaki and Niall Conlon were in the front line and nobody came through on the direct route. And when they did try the outside, Chuckie Laing from full-back steamed in with some crunching tackles which more than once saved certain tries. Steve Bull and Takeshi Takeda both worked hard all match to make sure the tries were scored on the other wing.

But it wasn?t all back-pedalling. The burly Seth Moran came on in the second half for some bullocking runs through the midfield, and Hiroshi Tashiro and then Shin Okazaki started to snipe and break from half-back. The Gaijin, bulked up in the last minutes by the arrival of ice-cream duo Blake and Jerry, started hammering hard at the opposition line, but the stubborness of Donkey prevailed.

So we didn?t win the cup. However, as captain of the runners-up, Joe Fisher did pick up a fine-looking and yellowed parchment inscribed with delicate Japanese characters. This will soon be framed and on display on the Clubhouse wall, and for those unable to read Japanese it says:

"Well done, lads! (or words to that effect). A great cup-run, played in a grand spirit, enhancing the club?s reputation as hard but fair Tokyo competitors! Hold your heads high! Your hour of victory will come! (And please be in time for the dress checks)."

In defeat as in victory, many thanks as always to Ayako 1, Ayako 2, Shino, Takayuki Kitajima, Aaron, Paul, Mizue, Sean Brophy, and everyone else who has supported and sustained the Gaijin during this Tokyo Cup campaign.

Go You Good Things.

Man of the Match: Seth Moran, Chuckie Laing

Large Man of the Match: Jerry Brady

Pictures : HERE

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