An excellent squad gathered for our third game of the 2008 Shuto League Championship and there were high hopes that we could play some entertaining rugby to match the superb day that had dawned on Sunday the 5th of October. The weather turned to custard, and although the same can't quite be said for the Gaijin, who ended up victors on the day, it was a far from convincing performance. Within the first 5 minutes, the ever reliable Frenchman Kevin Rebay had made a break and put the usually reliable Fijian Joe Vandell in the clear with a well-timed pass. Inexplicably, Joe spilt the ball forward with the try line beckoning. This was to become the theme of the day. Errors at crucial times leading to a litany of missed opportunities and numerous heart palpitations for those on the side-line as the game drew to a close.
Watching the first half from the side-line, the thing that stood out was the complete dominance of the Gaijin scrum. With the front row in particular working extremely hard, we were able to win our ball easily and also push the Mushi back on their own feeds, leading to a number of tightheads. The problem perhaps was over dominance - at times the Gaijin pack was moving forward so fast
that control of the ball became difficult, and on a few occasions, the Mushi were able to snaffle the loose ball that popped out the back of the Gaijin scrum.
Other the the strong scrum, those worth a mention in the first half were halfback Shin (returning after a period away from the Gaijin), whose accurate box kicking turned the Mushi round on a number of occasions, and the omnipresent frog Mr Rebay, who, despite playing at lock in the first half, was explosive on attack and defense and went over for a try to claim the only points of the first half.
After some stern words from captain Clarke at half-time, the Gaijin were confident that they could turn things around and play some better rugby in the second half as they had done against Fuji Club two weeks previously. Unfortunately the second half yielded more of the same and some that was even worse, with more than two forwards (Fearon, de Berriozabal, Rebay) having brain explosions and trying to kick the ball when a solid drive forward would have done the job. After the game, these three were all awarded the "Erin Hughes" award in memory of Hughes' appalling effort to clear the ball with his boot two weeks earlier at the same ground.
Rebay made amends to a certain extent with his second try of the game after more solid forward work but after that, the Gaijin were required to repel wave upon wave of Mushi attacks. Weak midfield defence let the Mushi in for a converted try under the post with around 15 minutes to go and that's when those with weak hearts started to find it hard to breath.
Newly appointed Gaijin Debt Collecter Dave Kelver, who came off with approximately 10 minutes remaining in the game summed it up well from the sideline when the Mushi were hot on attack seeking to nail the game only to be denied by some great defence by captain Murray Clarke (who made three tackles in a row and affected a turnover on the third) and Chris "Pikachu" Lucas. After the attack was nullified, Kelver muttered something along the lines of " I thought that was it, we don't deserve to win this game!"
But win the game we did, the final score being 10-7. There were some harsh words about ill discipline from captain Murray Clarke after the game but praise was also dished out to the team for another strong defensive effort. We certainly made it hard for ourselves but at the end of the day, a win is a win!
Special mention must go to the entire front row of Lucas, Kanamori, Poulton, Fearon and Nagashima who worked tirelessly (on the whole!) all day. “Pikachu” Lucas was appropriately awarded man of the match for his efforts throughout the entire 80 minutes. His scrummaging was strong and he also put in a few bullocking runs and effective tackles. We look forward to watching Chris improve further as we’re sure he can become even more damaging as he comes to grips with the intricacies of playing in the front row.
“Feral” Fearon must also be singled out as he added a lot of bite to the Gaijin when he entered the fray just after halftime. He too, made numerous charges and undoubtedly sent fear into the hearts of the Mushi with his aggression.
So, three wins from three and the Gaijin are on track to defend their Shuto League Title, although there is a lot to work on with some tough games to come!
SCORE : TGRFC 10 (Kevin Rebay 2 tries, Adam Shockley 0/2) v Tentou Mushi 7.
Man of the Match: Chris Lucas
Goat of the Match (A.K.A The Erin Hughes Award): Chris Fearon, Kevin Rebay & Paulo de Berriozabal
Rob Poulton (England)
Toru Kanamori (Japan)
Chris Lucas (Australia)
Murray Clarke © (New Zealand)
Kevin Rebay (France)
Dave Kelver (USA)
Paulo de Berriozabal (Basque)
Joffa Harris (Australia)
Shin Okazaki (Japan)
Adam Shockley (USA)
Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)
Rory Brown (South Africa)
Joe Nawaqavanua (Fiji)
Jo Iwasaki (Japan)
So Nagashima (Japan)
Chris Fearon (New Zealand)
Erin Hughes (USA)
Galwyn (Gaz) Dalrymple (Scotland)
Takeshi Ochiai (Japan)
Apisai Bati (Fiji)
Yoichi Ohira (Japan)
Yoshihiro Sato (Japan)
Ryuta Inoue (Japan)
Andy Ballard (England)