Dateline: Sunday, September 23, 2018
Venue: Mizumoto SoGo Sports Center (水元総合スポーツセンター)
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC gathered at Mizumoto SoGo Sports Center in Kanamachi in readiness for their second round Shuto League game for 2018. After a first up win they were keen to keep the ball rolling with more ‘W’s. The problem was player availability. With a few guys unavailable because of work the problem was exacerbated when two key forwards did not show up for kickoff due to being stuck in a traffic jam. (They would arrive just after the game finished). What’s more, two players – Joffa Harris & Andrew Mills, had played in the previous Old Boys game and the concern was that they would run out of juice. Despite all the problems the Gaijin managed to have a full team at kickoff at 11:30am. They would be playing with just the one reserve though.
The Gaijin started positively and within 5 minutes they were on the board after a few good runs and excellent passing in the backs saw Sean Robinson go over for a try on the left. Chris O’Sullivan duly converted to have the Gaijin in front 7 v 0.
The Gaijin kept the pressure on and Joffa Harris was the next over the try line after he took a pop pass from captain Tomohiro Setoguchi, two passes off a ruck, to dive over under the posts. O’Sullivan again converted and the Gaijin were further in front at 14 v 0.
Swift RFC came roaring back with a try and conversion of their own to make the score 14 v 7.
Louie Hamilton then increased the Gaijin lead to 21 v 7 scoring under the posts after an offload from Chris O’Sullivan, who had danced through the defense and shrugged off a few defenders. O’Sullivan converted to have 3 successful conversions from 3 attempts.
Once again Swift ensured that they were still within striking distance of the lead with a well taken try and successful conversion making the score 21 v 14 at halftime.
A few of the boys were anxiously scanning the bench at halftime searching for their team mates in their desire for a breather however Glen & Tom were still negotiating the traffic jam. They would have to soldier on. Win Irham came on for Andrew Mills who had succumbed to an ankle injury. Mills would hobble back onto the field for the last seven minutes when Natsuhiko Kunitomo succumbed to fatigue.
After a good run down the right wing by Yoshihiro Sato early in the second half Swift were penalized at a ruck 5 metres out from the own line. Some quick thinking by halfback Quille Alonso saw him take a quick tap and dive over in the corner before Swift RFC knew what was happening. O’Sullivan failed with this conversion but the Gaijin led of 26 v 14.
Then Louie Hamilton got a second try after following a handy break by Chris O’Sullivan again in a mirror image of his first try. O’Sullivan was unable to convert but the Gaijin still had a healthy lead of 31 v 14.
Swift RFC then decided it was now or never to catch up and scored two tries with the help of numerous penalties and a missed knock-on. They converted both to bring the score to 31 v 28. This made for an exciting end to the game and a nervous period for the Gaijin.
The Gaijin then seemingly put the win out of range for Swift when Ryosuke Okawara chipped the ball over the oncoming defense and Jay Jay regathered and raced away to score under the posts. O’Sullivan converted making the score 38 v 28. Swift would have to score twice over the last 10 minutes.
With time almost up on the clock the Gaijin were awarded a penalty in front of the sticks about 25 metres out. Captain Tomohiro Setoguchi pointed to the posts at the urging of O’Sullivan and he duly converted. The referee immediately blew his whistle for fulltime with the gaijin running out winners 41 v 28.
With a few non-regular starters and just the one reserve the Gaijin had played out of their skins to get the win. A senior member of the team said after the game “That was 30% skill and 70% guts.” Natsuhiko Kunitomo and Andrew Mills were two non-regular starters who really shone and put in big efforts at lock. Guille Alonso, who hadn’t played for the Gaijin in two years and hadn’t played rugby for a year, steered the team around the park well at halfback and new boys Kouiti Morita and Jay Jay had fantastic debuts.
The official MVP for the Gaijin, as selected by Swift RFC, was Chris O’Sullivan, and Joffa Harris was selected as the best forward. The Gaijin also added Louie Hamilton as an MVP for his tireless efforts.
SCORE: TGRFC 40 (Louie Hamilton 2, Sean Robinson 1, Joffa Harris 1, Guille Alonso 1, Jay Jay 1 tries; Chris O’Sullivan 4/6 conversions, 1/1 penalties) SWIFT RFC 28 (4 tries; 4/4 conversions)
MVP: Chris O’Sullivan & Louie Hamilton
Goat(s) of the Game: Glen Amos and Tom McCullough who didn’t actually play. They arrived a few minutes after the game was over after being stuck in a traffic jam while the boys soldiered on.
14, Sean Robinson (Ireland)
Reserves: (20) Win Irham (Indonesia)