Dateline: 4th October,2009. It was a surprising turnout of players for the Tokyo Gaijin RFC with about 30 players showing up considering that 7 regular members couldn't make it. The weather had been kind and we were up against the bottom of the table Baku & Clover Club but even with the great turnout, it didn't seem to help with the performance.
The pitch was in good condition and was one of the better surfaces that the Gaijin have played on so far. Even though we had alot of factors giving us the advantage: superior size, superior bench, superior skill, we couldn't make things click immediately as we laboured through the first half. The brlliant lineouts of the prevoius week were not operating smoothly, the backline could not get forward momentum and B & C created pressure and played good running rugby to be threatening our tryline right from the beginning. Tokyo Gaijin were under immense pressure from penalty after penalty for ruck infringements but some good clearance kicks from Matt Stride were getting good distance and relieving the pressure. Having beaten B & C by 40 to nil in 2008, it seemed as though the perceived "easy" game was going to be more challenging than expected.
The Tokyo Gaijin absorbed the pressure and eventually played their way down the field. B & C did have a line break down the touchline and created an overlap but a try saving tackle by Rory Brown kept the Tokyo Gaijin in the game. The Gaijin kept their heads up a played back down into B & C's half but just couldn't crack the tryline, even after some good forward rucking & mauling. Aran Deleney had a crack at the line from a maul about 10 meters out but the defense held firm. Soon after, Yoz Togo made a dive for the line from the back of a ruck, but dropped the ball in the same motion. Opportunity gone and 'Goat of the Game' contender in one. Both teams went into the half without putting points on the board. It seemed that the next team to score a try would crack this game open.
The second half was a different game for the Gaijin with some strong words offered and a few substitutions made at halftime. The Gaijin made some great game turning plays and the lineouts began to come together. About 15 minutes into the second half the Gaijin had a lineout near the B & C line and drove towards the line creating a ruck. Aran 'Dell' Delaney picked the ball up from the back and crashed over for the first try of the game taking the score to 5-0. It was a true 'forwards' try with intense effort from all the forwards. Matt Stride lined the ball up for a conversion but was just off target keeping the score at 5-0. The Gaijin still had a lot of work to do.
The next exciting bit of play saw Daisuke Ikeda take an intercept just inside his own half and scoot upfield. As the defense closed in he passed to the ever-present Toru Kanamori who chipped ahead. The Baku & Clover cover defense was too quick however, and it all came to nothing.
B & C came back firing and picked the pace up, causing a few turnovers and pressured the Gaijin with a few well placed kicks and strong defense. One of their attempted kicks was eventually charged down by Toby Gallagher who collected his own charge down just over the halfway line and he had an open field to the tryline. He crossed over with the cover defense in hot pursuit to take the score to 10-0. Matt Stride`s attempt at the two extra points was waved away and the Gaijin found themselves with a 10v0 lead to defend. From this point the Gaijin held the game in their hands.
B & C didn't lie down though and kept challenging the Gaijin line. They came close to scoring under the posts but during a mauling movement, a B & C player was yellow carded for foul play which took immense pressure off the Gaijin. The kick was cleared to near the 10m line and this was the last time B & C threatened.
Extra substitutons were made which gave some impact off the bench and the fresh legs gave the Gaijin an advantage. With time running down, the Gaijin made one last go at the line and eventually had a scrum set 5m out from B & C's line. The ball popped out and Toby Gallagher was quick enough to poach the ball and dive over the line taking his total to two tries and the score to 15-0. With little time left and the game won, Chris Fearon - playing in his last match for the Gaijin before heading back to New Zealand - stepped up to attempt the kick, but the prop couldn't convert.
Time was called soon after with B & C knocking the ball on in an attempted intercept and the Gaijin went away with a laboured win, 15-0.
It was a long day for The Gaijin as the home team on duty which involved setting up the pitch and taking down the posts. The referee was late to arrive delaying the start and the team was missing at least 7 regular starters. Despite this, with such a strong forward pack it should really have just been a matter of taking our time and feeling our way, which is pretty much how it went as things gelled in the second half.
Players of note included Junnosuke Nakamura in his first game for The Gaijin, Aran Delaney, Toby Gallagher, Toru Kanamori (Captain). Aaron Nutsford also did well in his first game for the Gaijin filling in at halfback.
While we welcomed some new blood to the team (Aaron, Junnosuke, Wataru, Toshihiro), it is sad to say that it was Chris 'Feral' Fearon's last match for The Gaijin as he returns to his homeland of New Zealand. Chris has been with the club since 2006 and has been a key feature of it. Highlights include some massive tackles ending the day for his opponents, some huge scrumming and explosive lifting in the line outs, and having the biggest prop we have ever seen (150kg) commenting on how strong "Feral" was (the Beast was also upended in a tackle by the fired up Chris on that day). Best try scored would have to have been in the Champions League 2009 when he ran the ball in from around the 10 meter mark leaving a pile of bodies in his wake - the pictures tell it how it was. Good luck to the little prop from Down Under.
A big thanks to the helpers and supporters who came out for the day! We couldn't enjoy our rugby without you.
Final score: TGRFC 15 (Toby Gallagher 2, Aran Delaney1 tries, Matt Stride 0/3 conversions) Baku & Clover 0
Man of the Match: Aran "Del" Delaney
Goat of the Match: Yoz Togo (for dropping the ball over the line)
1. Chris Fearon (New Zealand)
2. Toru Kanamori (Japan)
3. Chris Lucas (Australia)
4. David Richards (Wales)
5. Richard O'Shea (Wales)
6. Yoz Togo (Japan)
7. Toby Gallagher (Ireland)
8. Aran Delaney (USA)
9. Aaron Nutsford (New Zealand)
10. Matt Stride (Australia)
11. Toshihiro Uematsu (Japan)
12. Apisai Bati (Fiji)
13. Jo Iwasaki (Japan)
14. Daisuke Ikeda (Japan)
15. Rory Brown (South Africa)
Reserves: Tomo Togo (Japan), Warren Adamson (South Africa), Erin Hughes (USA), Gaz Dalrymple (Scotland), Joffa Harris (Australia), Junnosuke Nakamura(Japan), Ikuo Fukuda ( Japan), Wataru Sato (Japan), Yusuke Kobayashi (Japan), Andy Ballard (England), Charles Joffre (France), Hitoshi Chihara (Japan), Yoshihiro Sato (Japan)