The game kicked off at 12.15 after some adjustments were made to the field for lining, and with the field in great condition it was a prime opportunity for some running rugby.
The TGRFC got off the mark early with a try to Charles Joffre down the left wing after some great lead-up work from newly elected captain Matt Downer. The only real concern was when Charles was actually planning to put the ball down as he ran a long way round towards the posts to improve the conversion chance for his captain. Downer was thankful for the extra effort and duly converted to give the Gaijin an early lead of 7v0.
Downer was over the tryline himself soon after. The buildup came after a series of charge-ups by the forwards. Quick ball from a maul saw Downer go left and the defense scrambling that way to cover an obvious overlap. He cut back inside three would-be defenders and scored next to the posts. The easy conversion gave the Gaijin a handy 14v0 lead.
They Gaijin were also unlucky not to get another try early on, after the referee ruled a knock-on that was actually propelled backwards from a defenders hand (Ed: his own admission later). You could chalk that one up to a rookie refereeing error.
With the standoff for the Navy team making a jinking run after some fine pick and go work from the forwards, we were able to witness some of the fine play this team is capable of. The Gaijin fell off some tackles and all it took was a nice basketball style pass to the blindside wing to finish off the try. 14 – 5 was the score but anyone would have thought it was the other way around with the score for the Navy team giving them the enthusiasm they required.
The next try would also went to the George Washington lads and a heavy wake up call was delivered to the Gaijin. A charge down and some good support work had them over the line with just enough momentum to get the ball down in a twisting motion. The score was 14 – 10 to the Gaijin and with some very physical play it was a game that was sure to provde a few knocks.
Daisuke Ikeda was having avery good showing at inside centre (#12) and was making some good headway in the backs with his elusive running and good lines of attack. The third try would fall to his wingman Ikuo Fukuda after some nice interplay between Ikeda and Andy Ballard.
Ikeda was responsible for the next points as well, dotting down from about 30 metres out after being put in space by Downer on a nice switch play. So entering the break at 26 – 10 was a fair reflection of what had taken place thus far.
With both teams making a raft of changes at the half the game was sure to open. Amongst other changes the Gaijin brought on 3 players who hadn’t played for 6 months. Riki Pitter came on at fullback, Lonnie Childress came onto the wing (both players being out for 6 months with injury) and Takashi Narita (AWOL with new family member) replaced Tomo Togo at hooker.
The backs worked well to get the Gaijin on the board early in the second half when Downer scored in the right-hand corner. Downer made an angled run across field, and when the defense laid off him he decided to go himself and made a dash for the corner. He smashed 2 defenders backwards as he lunged at the line. His conversion had just enough to sneak over the cross bar for the scoreline to become 33 – 10.
Toby, who was having a fine game at flank, made a big burst from his own 22 to start the next scoring play. He burst onto the ball at speed and was able to break a tackle and surge up past the halfway, before feeding off to Ballard who scored close to the posts for another converted try, 40 – 10.
The Navy scrum had held up well to this point, considering they had an inexperienced prop, but the Gaijin began to get the better of them and started to turn over some set phase ball.
The second half was proving to be a high points scoring affair, and Tomo Togo may have been off the field, but in the spirit of his new role as vice-captain, was still shedding blood even though he was only taking game notes. Thanks Tomo.
Soon after, Ballard did well to get up from a high tackle after he cut inside the defender, following a deft pass from Downer. Ballard, bursting through, was caught when the defender with arms flailing caught him high and stopped what was looming as a try. Whilst normally the catalyst for a bit of argey-bargey, the game was being played in good spirits and everyone knew the hit was not intentional. With the tackler and tackled player a little shaken, the Navy boys dropped back 10 m for the penalty. Joffa Harris took a quick tap and went blind, then quickly shuffled the ball onto Downer, who drew the last defender and allowed Richard O’Shea to scuttle over in the corner. This was O’Shea’s second 5 pointer in two games and he is certainly getting his plans to become this seasons’ top try-scorer off to a good start. The score imporoved to 47 – 10 in favor of the Gaijin after another good conversion from Downer.
Riki Pitter, in his first game back after a long spell away, was the next scorer. Ricky received a popped ball from the drifting and scything Downer and charged at the line taking two defenders over with him for another converted try. This after a the forwards had again stolen opposition ball in a good position. Downer converted to take the score to 54v10.
Several forwards had been playing well, Paulo Berriozbal was having a big game as was the new prop Sakae Sakai, who had several charging runs from kickoffs, and looked to be a good new addition in the scrum.54 – 10.
The Navy guys were unlucky not to get another 5 pointer late in the game when they charged down a kick from the back of a scrum when the Gaijin were in their own 22. It was recovered inside the goal line by a Gaijin defender, who attempted to kick it into touch, but it was charged down once again, and knocked over the dead ball line. The Navy were awarded a 5 metre scrum but once again the Gaijin scrum overpowered them and released the pressure valve and the ball was kicked upfield.
After the ball had moved upfield from subsequent plays, Matt Downer found Joffa Harris in some space. As Harris came to the last defender, he was unaware that Downer had doubled around him creating an overlap, and opted to kick the ball ahead. Alas, it went directly into touch, confirming that old cliche that forwards shouldn’t kick. This may in part be due to the fact that he had been taken very heavily in head high tackle earlier in the second half. Although he got up quickly, he did comment that he ‘saw blackness for a bit’.
The last scoring play of the game would see the hardworking Toby Gallagher rewarded for an industrious day. Rory Brown burst from the back of a scrum and threw a cheeky dummy, and faked a few defenders before putting the ball inside to Gallagher who was running good support lines. He scored under the posts and the try was converted to make the score 61 – 10.
Time was almost up on the clock but there would be time for a few more phases. From the kickoff Erin Hughes slipped a lovely ball to Joffa Harris, who passed it onto Toby Gallagher, who surged upfield into the oppostion’s half. Gallagher passed it off to Daisuke Ikeda. He also tried to force a pass to new boy, Isaac Law, that would have opened up the defense again but it didnt stick and the ball was knocked on. It looked like a try for all money straight from the kickoff and would have been a nice fluid movement to finish the game, but it wasn`t to be. As soon as the ball rolled into touch the referee blew his whistle. Final result 61v10.
It was a game that was played in very good spirits in fine conditions, and the Gaijin would be very happy with the scoreline against a much improved USS George Washington Rugby team. The forward pack had dominated the scrums and was superbly led by Toby Gallagher, Paulo de Berriozabal & Richard O’shea. New prop, Sakae Saito, showed a lot of promise with some good charge-ups and solid scrummaging. In the backs, Matt Downer had dominated, and Daisuke Ikeda ran some superb lines and constantly broke through the defense. Rory Brown, who came on at halftime, had a very busy game at halfback showing some excellent running rugby. The club also welcomed another two new boys who showed promise in winger Isaac Law, and lock Hiroyuki Saito.
Thanks again to all involved in the organisation of the event, especially Jason Buchanon, and to spectators and family members who attended on the day. (Ed: Also thanks to Blake Walker for refereeing the game. Good job!)
Score: TGRFC 61 (Matt Downer 2, Charles Joffre 1, Ikuo Fukuda 1, Daisuke Ikeda 1, Andy Ballard 1, Richard O’Shea 1, Riki Pitter 1, Toby Gallagher 1 tries; Downer 8 from 9 conversions). USS George Washington 10 (2 tries)
Man of the Match: Daisuke Ikeda
1: Warren Adamson (SA)
2: Tomo Togo (Japan)
3: Sakae Saito (Japan)
4: Richard O’Shea ( Wales)
5: Hiroyuki Saito (Japan)
6: Toru Kanamori (Japan)
7: Toby Gallagher (Ireland
8: Paulo Berriozabal (Basque)
9: Junnosuke Nakamura (Japan)
10: Matt Downer (NZ)
11: Ikuo Fukuda (Japan)
12: Daisuke Ikeda (Japan)
13: Andy Ballard (UK)
14: Charles Joffre (France)
15: Jo Iwasaki (Japan)
Reserves: Takashi Narita (Japan), Chris Lucas(Aus), Erin Hughes (USA), Joffa Harris (Aus), Riki Pitter(SA), Lonnie Childress(USA), Isaac Law (USA), Rory Brown(SA), Yoshihiro Satou (Japan).