Dateline: September 24th, 2017
Shuto League Round 2, 2017
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC turned up to play their second round of the Shuto League against Olivers RFC at the beautiful Tatsumi Rugby Ground on a beautiful sunny day. After a big 64 v 17 first round win the Gaijin were keen to continue this streak of hot form. Three new boys were fronting up for their first Gaijin games in Irishman Peter Calvert, German Fabien Dill, and local boy Yuki Hattori.
It didn’t take the Gaijin long to get on the score board. The Gaijin kicked off and after a few rucks Olivers RFC decided to kick down field. Gaijin fullback Travis Drury took the ball on the full inside his own half and beat the first onrushing defender. He then cut straight through the rest of the Olivers players, swerving past attempted tackles and raced in to score under the posts. Paddy Watson converted. With just 2 minutes on the clock the Gaijin were up 7 v 0.
Then, from a lineout on the left side of the field the Gaijin produced a strong rolling maul that was stopped just short of the try line. With the referee calling for the ball to be used it was swung across the field to Paddy Watson, and then to Travis Drury who probably could have scored himself but he selflessly passed it on to right winger Alex Auldy who raced in to score. Watson duly converted to make the score 14 v 0 to the Gaijin.
Then from another kick downfield Drury once again cut through the defense. After Olivers finally managed to tackle him a quick ruck ensued and the ball was spread out to the backs. Some good interplay between Sovita Tui and Alex Auldy saw Auldy race over the try line on the right wing and manage to run around to score under the posts for his second. Watson was again on target and the Gaijin were out to a 21 v 0 lead.
The Gaijin kept the points coming when a shocking pass from the Olivers standoff landed in Takashi Tanikawa’s hands. He made a good run down the right flank, and then passed inside to Paddy Watson who crashed over in a tackle to score. He couldn’t convert his own try but the lead was now a very healthy 26 v 0 with just a quarter of the match gone.
The Gaijin’s next points came from a strong rolling maul after a lineout 20 meters out. Glen Amos was at the back of it all when they barged over the line. Watson converted. Score: 33 v 0.
Olivers RFC finally produced some promising play but it all came from a Gaijin communication mistake when standoff Paddy Watson and scrumhalf Sota Kaneko messed up a loop. An Olivers player picked up the ball and a few passes later they were in the clear. Watson doubled back and managed to take the ball carrier into touch 10 meters out from the Gaijin try line. Watson then threw a quick line out with a long American football style pass. It hit Shimpei Yamaguchi on the chest directly in front of his own posts but he dropped it cold. Maybe it was the force of the throw? The Gaijin held out with a strong scrum but then a low pass from half Sota Kaneko at the base of the scrum landed at Paddy Watson’s feet and was knocked on and the Gaijin had to do it all again. Finally a break by Baz Lobendahn got the Gaijin into enemy territory. He passed it onto Watson who was run down (or did he just run out of gas?). As he was being tackled he flung a pass to Liam Ramshaw but the pass was a little too short and Ramshaw, who had done well to get himself into that position, knocked the ball on.
After this period of ‘dropsies’ the half ended with last line of defense Travis Drury tackling a breakaway runner and that guy popping the ball back to Alex Auldy. Auldy turned around and hared up field, chipped ahead, and was winning the race to the ball but it just beat him into touch.
The Gaijin had well and truly dominated the half but the ball handling had got sloppy towards the end. Maybe it was the heat or maybe it was the fitness. Olivers needed to improve their tackling if they didn’t want to get beaten by a cricket score….and not kick directly to fullback Travis Drury who was having a field day and making them pay for their poor tackling.
With a big advantage at halftime some changes were made with new boy Peter Calvert moving into hooker, Rob Ferrari replacing Baz Lobendahn at lock and Hitoshi Chihara moving onto the wing in place of Alex Auldy. More changes would come during the half as the Gaijin endeavored to get everybody game time.
Olivers RFC finally cracked the Gaijin defense for a try just three minutes into the half after loose Gaijin play. They failed with their conversion and were still far behind at 33 v 5.
The Gaijin finally woke out of the slumber that had started 10 minutes before halftime when Pater Calvert, showing strong leg drive, ran 10 meters with four guys hanging off him, to crash over the line with the assistance of Sovita Tui from behind. Watson nailed the conversion making the score 40 v 5 to the TGRFC.
Calvert was in the action again soon after with a good break. He managed to slip the ball away in traffic to Sota Kaneko who threw the last pass to Liam Ramshaw who raced the last 20 meters to score midway between posts and sideline. The big fella showed good pace for a tight five member. Watson failed with the conversion leaving the score at 45 v 5.
The next try came after a fantastic chase by new boy Yuki Hattori. Watson had sent a kick way down field and Hattori had chased hard. The ball took a wicked back spin as it neared the Olivers fullback and Hattori was first to it. He soccer-kicked it, but it went straight into the fullback. Takashi Tanikawa, running a good support line, was on hand to pick up the ricochet and run the final 20 meters to score. Watson converted to increase the lead to 52 v 5.
Center Sovita Tui then joined the scorers list after running 40 meters following good runs by Chris Musgrave and Travis Drury. Watson couldn’t add the extras but the score had now ballooned out to 57 v 5.
Not long after this Tui was given a yellow card for a high tackle leaving the Gaijin with 14 men.
The Gaijin struggled for the next 10 minutes as mistakes led to turnover ball and the referee was losing patience with ruck infringements and gave a team warning against them promising to yellow card the next infringer. The bench had been emptied by this stage and with all the new boys on there seemed to be a bit of a disconnect. The defense muscled up though and refused to crack despite Olivers RFC having a period of dominance and territorial advantage.
Travis Drury would be the man to get the scoreboard ticking over again with a 65 meter run. He failed with his own conversion to leave the score at 62 v 5.
It would be two of the new boys that finished off the scoring. First it was a try by Fabien Dill after a nice break by Sovita Tui, who had just rejoined the game bringing the Gaijin back to 15 players. Then Pater Calvert scored his second for the game when he broke down the left, sold a beautiful dummy infield to his support, and ran the rest of the way to score a 40 meter try. Travis Drury converted both to make the final score 76 v 5.
The score line was an impressive one and it would be harsh to fault any of the Gaijin players. The defense was solid and did well to keep Olivers RFC to just the one try but it will need to be even better against Koryo next week. Speed to the ruck will also need some fine-tuning. Handling was quite good except for the periods just before and after half time.
The set piece was strong for the Gaijin and their strong scrum was a catalyst for their backs to run riot, and that they did. It was hard to pick a Man of the Match from amongst them as all played very well but Olivers RFC agreed with the general Gaijin consensus that Travis Drury should be Man of the Match. The pick of the forwards was Takashi Tanikawa.
All the new players had great debuts with Peter Calvert being the first Gaijin to score a double on debut (if my memory serves me correctly) and Fabien Dill also scoring on debut.
Man of the Match: Travis Drury
Goat of the Match: Sovita Tui (yellow card)
SCORE : TGRFC 76 (Travis Drury 2, Alex Auldy 2, Peter Calvert 2, Paddy Watson 1, Glen Amos 1, Liam Ramshaw 1, Takashi Tanikawa 1, Sovita Tui 1, Fabien Dill 1; Paddy Watson 6/9 conversions, Travis Drury 2/3 conversions ) OLIVERS 5 (1 try, 0/1 conversions)