Dateline: January 20th, 2019
The last game of the Shuto League for 2018 was held in January due to the match being rained out back in October. The Gaijin came up against Nerima RFC at Inagi Nagamine Verdy Field (the astro-turf field in Inagi). The Gaijin needed to win to finish second in the Shuto League with Koryo RFC uncatchable at the top. The Gaijin narrowly beat Nerima 36 v 33 last year so they knew they had a tough game on their hands.
Unfortunately, due to all sorts of reasons the Gaijin had 6 pullouts on the day. Not the ideal start. At the after match function the Gaijin would also find out that Nerima had pulled in some outsiders from Acorn club to boost their side.
The Gaijin made a break early through Louie Hamilton, and another with Tom McCullough and David McElhinney combining but dropped ball ruined these half-chances and it would be Nerima RFC who got the first try in the 8th minute when their fullback ran 60 metres to score. The successful conversion had them up 7 v 0.
In the 23rd minute good interlinking play by the Gaijin got them to within 10 metres of the Nerima line. A quick tap penalty for a high-tackle was taken but thwarted but the Gaijin got another penalty not being back the required 10 metres. The Gaijin took a scrum and standoff Daisuke Teraoka drew a defender and put fullback Ryosuke Okawara in under the posts. Teraoka then converted to make the score 7 v 7.
The Gaijin should have been in again soon after when lock Taku Tokuriki took an intercept and ran 30 metres before the defense closed in. He passed the ball off to Sota Kaneko who had to run the remaining 25 metres but he too was chased down. From the tackle he went at the line again but was held up over the line. No try! Sota’s pace is quite deceptive – he’s actually slower than he looks. For this farce (playing wing but being slower than a prop??) and a kickoff out on the full later in the game Sota was given Goat of the match.
In the 32nd minute Nerima were on the scoreboard again and the conversion gave them a 14 v 7 lead.
Just before halftime, a strong scrum 10 metres out from the Nerima line allowed No.8 Takashi Tanikawa to pick and go from the back. He bumped off the first defender and crashed over the try line. Teraoka failed to convert to make the half time score line 14 v 12.
Nerima started the second half the better of the two teams. A botched Gaijin lineout led to a big break by Nerima from 15 metres out from the own line. Louie Hamilton managed to tackle the breakaway and come away with the ball just inside the Gaijin half. Nerima continued to have the early running of the half and were beating the Gaijin to their own rucks. Five minutes into the half and Nerima won a ruck penalty and one of their backs raced away to score to make the score line 21 v 7 with the successful conversion.
In the 8th minute Nerima scored again after the Gaijin botched the kickoff. They scored down the left as the Gaijin defense seemingly went to sleep. Score: 28 v 12
In the 17th minute a dominant scrum just outside the Nerima 22 metre line saw the Nerima scrum twisted. Gaijin halfback David McElhinney took advantage of this, threw a dummy to fool a few backline defenders, and raced around under the posts to score. Replacement Mosese Rarasea converted making the score 28 v 19.
The Gaijin had to score next but Nerima were doing their best to take the game away from them. In the 22nd minute Nerima were pushing hard at the Gaijin line but were held up. From the following scrum they managed to barge over and another successful conversion had their lead climbing to 35 v 19 and seemingly out of reach for the Gaijin.
To make matters worse Gaijin lock Taku Tokuriku was given a yellow card from the kickoff when he tackled the receiver a split second before he hit the ground, so it was to be 14 on 15 for the remaining 10 minutes.
This spurred the Gaijin on and a break from Tom McCullough on the halfway line saw him make it to the Nerima 22 metre line and a nice inside pass to David McElhinney who finished it off. Teraoka converted to make the score 35 v 26 with 6 minutes to go.
Nerima managed to spend most of that time in the Gaijin half to close out the game. They were deserved winners and had dominated certain areas. Nerima kicked judiciously and easily won the penalty count. Their kick-chase was far superior and they had more pace down the flanks than the Gaijin. Their lineout was also a strong point and put a lot of pressure on the Gaijin lineout.
For the Gaijin, Tom McCollough and Taku Tokuriki were standouts in the forwards. Mohammed ‘Win’ Irham also did well at lock for his first full game for the Gaijin. In the backs Louie Hamilton and Youichi Morita were the standouts along with Man of the Match Ryosuke Okawara.
The loss dropped the Gaijin to third on the table at season’s end.
3. Tokyo Gaijin
7.All Jin Jan
SCORE: Nerima RFC 35 (5 tries; 5/5 conversions) Tokyo Gaijin RFC 26 (David McElhinney 2, Ryosuke Okawara 1, Takashi Tanikawa 1 tries; D.Teraoka 2/3, M. Rarasea 1/1 conversions)
MVP: Ryosuke Okawara
Goat: Taku Tokuriki (Yellow Card), Sota Kaneko
1. Natsuhiko Kunitomo (Japan)
2. Tomohiro Setoguchi (c) (Japan)
3. Tsunaki ‘Don’ Tanaka (Japan)
4. Taku Tokuriki (Japan)
5. Mohammed Win Irham (Indonesia)
6. Tom McCullough (England)
7. Sean Robinson (Ireland)
8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
9. David McElhinney (Ireland)
10. Daisuke Teraoka (Japan)
11. Sota Kaneko (Japan)
12. Louie Hamilton (Ireland)
13. Kouichi Morita (Japan)
14. Akira Tachibana (Japan)
15. Ryosuke Okawara (Japan)
16. Gorka Gerdiaga (Basque)
19. Joffa Harris (Australia)
21. Mosese Rarasea (Fiji)
22. Yoshihiro Sato (Japan)
23. Akira Yamagen (Japan)