Dateline: 23rd October 2010
Opposition: Fuji RFC
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC were keen for revenge against Fuji Club after suffering their only loss in the 2009 Shuto League to them, despite Fuji Club finishing bottom of the table. This loss proved expensive as the TGRFC then lost their Shuto Crown because of a weaker 'For and Against' to All Jin Jan, who had also only lost the one game, against the Gaijin. After an opening round loss to the Gentle Giants the Tokyo Gaijin needed a win to keep their season on track. Fuji Club had already beaten Gentle Giants in the League 27v17.
The Tokyo Gaijin started strongly with excellent interplay between the forwards and great support play. The Fuji Club barely got into the Gaijin half in the first 20 minutes but good defense kept them in the game. In this period the Gaijin forwards were dominating their counterparts and Joffa Harris was the first to go close to scoring, however he was held up over the line. From the ensuing 5-metre scrum the Gaijin put on a powerful shove and Andy Ballard was able to dive on the ball in the scrum to get the Gaijin scoreboard rolling. The conversion was missed but the clear dominance of the Gaijin forwards must have made the their Fuji counterparts heads drop. Score TGRFC 5 v Fuji 0.
Soon after the Gaijin had a chance to push the score further ahead but a Wataru Murata penalty attempt from almost in front of the posts was marginally wide.
Next to score for the Gaijin was winger Jeff Cutler, who made a swerving run from the wing beating a few would-be defenders to dive over the line. It was his first try for the Club. Once again the conversion attempt by Toshi Miyano was missed.
So the TGRFC went into halftime with a 10v0 lead. The scoreline actually flattered the Fuji Club as the Gaijin forwards had clearly dominated. It wasn't until well into the half that Fuji Club had ventured into Gaijin territory and that was the result of winning a kicking duel after a poor Gaijin chase. The backline for the Gaijin had been solid without being spectacular. Regular vice captain Hitoshi Chihara, filling in as captain for the day in place of Tomo Togo who was putting in time at the office, made some strong charges in the midfield and the defense did well to scramble whenever Fuji club got on the outside of the Gaijin backline.
The Gaijin dominance in the forwards continued in the second half with three further tries to their forward pack, but it was to be Fuji Club to score first in the second half. They got on a roll after some weak tackling by the TGRFC and were assisted further after a poor kick from Joffa Harris while covering a kick through. With four attackers coming at him and no-one in support he had little option but to kick, but the ball went straight up in the air...basically a bomb just outside his own quarter. After a few more phases, where the Fuji team stretched the Gaijin left, then right, to create a big overlap and dot down on the right side of the posts. The successful conversion made the score close at 10v7.
So at halftime, the scoreline of 10v7 made the game look very close and flattered the Fuji Club, but they were still well in the game.
New prop Tsukasa Takasugi was the next to score after a good rolling maul from a lineout just inside the Fuji 22 metre line. He broke off the side and crashed through the last remants of defense to score a well deserved try after previous strong runs. Once again the conversion by Toshi Miyano was unsuccessful with the score now at 15v7.
The Fuji Club should have been next on the board with their big right winger, who wouldn't have looked out of place in the front row, knocking the ball on with no-one in front of him.
Soon after with the Gaijin on the attack inside the Fuji 22 metre line, a Fuji Club forward lashed out at Alaister Nimmo in revenge for a raking and then backchatted the referee and was given 10 minutes in the sinbin.
The Gaijin soon took advantage of being a man up when Richard O'Shea was rewarded for a strong performance crashing through the defense after a strong charge from Aaron Nutsford after a series of 'pick and runs'. With Matt Stride taking over the kicking role, the Gaijin finally had a conversion attempt that was successful making the score 22v7.
Matt Stride then converted a penalty pushing the score out to 25v7.
Chris Lucas was to be the last scorer, touching down with his first touch of the ball after just having got on the field. A wobbly clearing kick by one of the Fuji backs went stright up in the air and was claimed by Richard O'Shea who did all the hard work and Lucas just had to fall over the line. Stride was unsuccessful with the conversion leaving the final score at 30v7 to the TGRFC.
The Tokyo Gaijin forwards had completely dominated their counterparts to lead the surge to victory. The forwards hit the rucks with venom and showed very good support play with the Welsh pairing of Dave Richards and Richard O'Shea particularly dominant. O'Shea was awarded Man of the Match for his non-stop display of running rugby and tireless support play.
The backline battle was probably marginally won by the Fuji Club who sometimes stretched the Gaijin out wide. It was only excellent cover defense that saved further points. The Fuji backline defense was also particularly strong and proved hard to break for the Gaijin backs.
It was especially pleasing to have some great impact from the reserve bench, something that the side sometimes lacks. Simon Palm, new boy Alex Glover, and Matt Stride all made excellent contributions with strong charges and good breaks.
The biggest downer was to leave so many points on the field due to poor goal kicking. Overshadowing this though, were the excellent debuts by Alex Glover and Tsukasa Takasugi.
In an ironic twist, Joffa Harris, who was named Man of the Match by the opposition (Editor's note: The TGRFC typically ignore the opposition's choice for Man of the Match) was given Goat of the Match by the powers that be on the Gaijin side for that poor kick, when covering a kick through.
Thanks as always to those who came out and supported the team.
SCORE: TGRFC 30 (A. Ballard 1, Jeff Cutler 1, Takasugi 1, R. O'Shea 1, C. Lucas 1 tries, T. Hamano 0/3, M. Stride 1/2 conversions, M. Stride 1/1 penlties, W. Murata 0/1 penalties) FUJI RFC 7 (1 try)
Man of the Match: Richard O'Shea
Goat of the Match: Joffa Harris
1. Warren Adamson (South Africa)
2. Tomo Togo (Japan) (C)
3. Tsukasa Takasugi (Japan)
4. Richard O'Shea (Wales)
5. Jessie Cutler (USA)
6. Andy Ballard (England)
7. Dave Richards (Wales)
8. Joffa Harris (Australia)
9. Alaister Nimmo (England)
10. Toshi Miyano (Japan)
11. Wataru Sato (Japan)
12. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan) (VC)
13. Jyoh Iwasaki (Japan)
14. Jeff Cutler (USA)
15. Blake Walker (NZ)
Reserves: Chris Lucas (Australia), Simon Palm (Germany), Alex Glover (England), Aaron Nutsford (NZ), Toru Kanamori (Japan), Matt Stride (Australia), Yamagen (Japan), Charles Joffre (France), Ikuo Fukuda (Japan)