Dateline: 28th November, 2010
It was far from a great spectacle, but the Gaijin were able to hold on to a first half lead despite putting 13 new guys on the field for the second half of the friendly game against Shinjuku Jacks. The end score of 31-20 was appropriate with the Gaijin squandering several scoring opportunities, and a number of inexperienced players coming onto the field in the 2nd half, letting the Jacks back into the contest. A number of frontline players were able to rest for the Shuto League Select trials that were to follow.
Shinjuku Jacks (SJ) were into the attack early and spun the ball wide. Yamagen, uncustomarily playing at fullback, made a good tackle close to the sideline to snuff out a big gain. A number of penalties were keeping SJ on attack in the Gaijin half with the Gaijin forwards doing all they could to delay the play of the ball and deservedly being penalised. An early chance down the right hand side was stopped due tooor handling by SJ.
The TGRFC boys were finally able to settle and with a good scrum managed to get some go forward ball to ease the pressure. From some good interplay by their forwards the Gaijin were able to clear the ball up the field and get good field position in the SJ 22. SJ had the feed to the scrum but the Gaijin pushed them off the ball easily with their strong tight 5 gaining the early asencdancy. Alex Glover would be the man who would score the first try after a strong run, when he pushed off several would be tacklers before being brought down close to the line. After another player did a hit-up, Alex had his hands on the ball again and the forwards helped maul him over the line for a good 5 pointer that would be converted. 7 - 0 to the Gaijin.
Joffa Harris managed to put down the kick off when his flailing arms were unable to stick to the ball. The attempt was somewhat reminiscent of a stranded swimmer caught in a rip signalling to the beach for help. This would put SJ in a strong position to launch an attack, and they did just that and strolled through weak backs defense for about the third week in a row. The yawning gap between 10 and 12 was enough to drive a truck through, and therefore no problem for the slighter built SJ Backs. 7 -5 to the Gaijin.
SJ had less problems dealing with the Gaijin kickoff and took it in well and cleared the ball upfield. Joffa, who had dropped back in cover, would not make the same mistake again and fielded the kick well. The SJ backs sprang to attention when Harris ran the ball back hard when he saw the counter-attack was on. Involved in a good interplay with Henry Bird and then back to Harris the Gaijin made big yards. SJ were let off the hook when a Gaijin player was penalised for not releasing the ball in the ruck. (Editor's note: The guilty player was seen arguing with the referee that the tackler had not released him and therefore made it impossible to release the ball. The referee acknowledged his mistake when he apologised at halftime). The following lineout was a chance for SJ to clear the ball, but it wasn't straight though, and TGRFC were back on attack. After a good buildup with a few quick rucks, Andy Ballard twisted and turned out of some tackles to dive across the tryline and extended the scoreline out to 12-5 which after the conversion would be 14-5 to the Gaijin.
The inexperience on the side was showing and they were looking to get the ball wide at every opportunity. Mark Garrat came off the worst when he looked to make a big tackle on the SJ #8. he was unceremoniously thumed to the ground only to have Simon Palm come to his rescue and do the same with a crunching blow on the same runner. Alex Glover was also having a strong game with his offensive tackling forcing the SJ players back time and again ir forced them into pushing the ball under pressure more than once.
Henry Bird would score a nice try down the wing when he collected a good pace to giv him some room to move. He then used his pace and guile to leave a flailing SJ fullback clutching at grass on the ground as Henry passed him. Henry went around under the posts to make it easier for himself to convrt, but the effort was worthless as he casually spooned the drop-kick conversion to the left of the posts. 19-5.
The omni-present Al Nimmo was causing trouble for his opposite at the back of the scrum. It was bad enough that his scrum was going backwardsbut the added presence of Nimmo was proving to be a nuisance for him to clear the ball. On this occasion Nimmo pounced on the loose ball, got up and went forward with another strong surge. Andy popped up on his shoulder to take it forward a few more metres before Alex was the linkman. He cleared a beautiful pass out of pressure to Hitoshi Chihara (captain for the day) who went down the left wing to score. With Yamagen converting the score was 26-5.
The Gaijin would see out the rest of the half with big defense on their own line. Bird, Dave Richards and Alex Glover all made big tackles. The Gaijin did well to sustain the pressure and when SJ tried to clear off their line wide and fast the Gaijin again pounced and cleared the ball up to halfway. Perhaps they should not have looked for so many yards, as from the following phases they lapsed again and let SJ make big yard to be back close to the line. Al Nimmo almost made a try-saving tackle, but the ball sprang loose on the ground and they were able to scoop it up and get over the lin to finsh the half with a score. 26-10.
With Halftime the changes would come and an entirely new team would take the field for the Gaijin so it was just a matter of time to see whether the structure would be lost or the fresh legs would add some sting to their attack. It was to be the former that would take place.
The second half started well for the Gaijin with a scoring opportunity just being missed. Henry Bird continued his strong game making a quick break before feeding off to Bati who broke a tackle and was caught just short of the line. A pass to new comer Anjula Silva just missed going to hand in the helter skelter for the try.
Bati would still be the instigator of the first try of the 2nd half though when he broke well from the base of the scrum and scythed through the defense. A quick interplay with Jo Iwasaki and the ball went back to Bati who was pulled down short of the line again. The following quick ruck ball meant Toru Kanamori was able to go over for 5 points. 31 - 10.
David Chan who was playing his first game for the Gaijin made a good start when he thumped the opposition 13 into the tracks with a big tackle. He may not have played for 8 years but he was right back into tackling as if he had never stopped.
Jeff Holland another player getting his first game for the Gaijin was having a tough introduction. He was having trouble holding onto the pill and when he and Gaijin stalwart Jo Iwasaki fell off easy tackles, Shinjuku Jack were through for their first try of the 2nd half. It was a soft try and the Gaijin looked worried that they scored so easy. 31 - 15
The game clock was ticking down but there was still plenty of time for Shinjuku to comeback and snatch a victory. Charles Joffre playing in the forwards again did well to snaffle a ball for a turnover, but his overeagerness saw the ball lost again and back to Shinjuku Jack. The referee correctly decided that SJ had offended at the ruck and Joffre was off the hook. The quick tap option by Bati was a little rash, and that was compounded by a silly no-look loop pass that was intercepted. Jesse Cutler did well to drag down their wing with a great tackle and force a knock on thus saving further Gaijin blushes.
Cutler was into it again soon after when he charged down th ball. A snappy recovery be Toru Kanamori was being industrious put the Gaijin hard on attack. There was a big opportunity wide for points but the ball was a little slow and ended up being knocked on in the midfield. The Jacks were able to clear the ball up the field to relieve pressure.
Later Shinjuku Jack had a big blindside to work with and used it well. They went left and the scrambling defense was not enough to stop them going through for a relatively easy try. 31-20.
Blake Walker made his token late appearance in the game and brsut off a nice pass from Danushka Waduge to make a hitup. The defense were not so adept at handling a back of this stature and were summarily left on the ground. The ball was popped to Wataru Sato who had a nice interplay with Waduge and Iwasaki before the ball went to Holland who then dropped his 4th straight pass. The new Sri Lankan boys had strong games and their combination at 9 and 10 promises good things heading into the start of the new year.
The game really fizzled out at the end with nothing remarkable happening. Wataru Sato made a good break and chipped through with the hopes that some support would help pick the ball up. However the Gaijin boys were in bunches and the Fullback managed to clear the ball again. Cue Jeff Holland to make a play, but unfortunately his hands let him down again.
The final score of 31-10 was a win for Gaijin and there were positives and negatives to be taken out of the game. Lots of players getting runs, some new promise being unearthed and a good warm-up for the trials. Negatives being poor backs defense again, some loose handling and some poor finishing meaning not as many points were scored as could have been.
Thanks as always to the helpers and supporters who come along each week to make th games and season possible. Your assistance ofter goes unrewarded but you are truly appreciated. Please come out and support us for 2011 and thanks for all your support in 2010
Score: TGRFC 31 (Alex Glover 1, Andy Ballard 1, Henry Biord 1, Hitoshi Chihara 1, Toru Kanamori 1 tries, Henry Bird 2/3 , Yamagen 1/1 , Danushka Waduge 0/1 conversions)) Shinjuku Jacks 20 (4 Tries, 0/4 conversions)
Man of the Match: Andy Ballard
Team for 19 November vs. Shinjuku Jack:
1st half team : 2nd half :
1. Warren Adamson (South Africa) Chris Lucas (Australia)
2. Liam Ramshaw (England)
3. Simon Palm (Germany) Tsukasa Takasugi (Japan)
4. Natsuhiko Kurinaga (Japan) Jesse Takahashi (USA)
5. Andy Ballard (England) Charles Joffre (France)
6. Dave Richards (Wales)
7. Alex Glover (England) Toru Kanamori (Japan)
8. Joffa Harris (Australia) Bati Apisai (Fiji)
9. Alistair Nimmo (England) Anjula Silva (Sri Lanka)
10. Toshi Miyano (Japan) Danushka Waduge (Sri Lanka)
11. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan) Wataru Sato (Japan)
12. Henry Bird (New Zealand) Blake Walker (New Zealand)
13. Ikuo Fukuda (Japan) David Chan (Australia)
14. Mark Garrat (Scotland) Jeff Holland (USA)
15. Yamagen (Japan) Jo Iwasaki (Japan)
Tokyo Gaijin - Alex Glover, Andy Ballard, Henry Bird, Hitoshi Chihara, Toru Kanamori tries. Henry Bird 2/3 conv., Yamagen 1/1 conv., Danushka Waduge 0/1. Shinjuku Jack - 10 (2 tries).