The Gaijin turned up to Yanokuchi Field to play a 'Friendly' game against Akanegahama RFC, in what has become an annual fixture. The game was a chance to give new players more game time and work on team tactics in preparation for the upcoming 'big game' against Supermen in the Champions Cup (a.k.a The Cup Winners Cup).
For the first ten minutes Akanegahama struggled to get out of their 22 metre line. When they received the ball they would kick for touch but big scrums from the Gaijin forward pack would put their number 8 and scrumhalf under enormous pressure and force mistakes at the back.
At the 5 minute mark the Akanegahama inside centre was forced out of the game due to a big tackle. Soon after the Gaijin were held up over the line and there were calls for a try but the referee disagreed. Halfback Tristan O'Connor went blindside from the ensuing scrum and Daisuke Ikegamai went close again but was held up but the ball was quickly rucked back and Murray Clarke, playing his first game for the Gaijin in a year, scrambled over. Score 5 v 0.
Soon after Akanegahama looked like they were going to score a runaway try from dropped ball from the Gaijin backs. Blake Walker had brilliantly picked up a wobbling ball under pressure, that had been kicked through, but lobbed the ball up in the tackle to no-one. Liam Ramshaw made a desperate tackle from behind to save the day. This had been how the game had ebbed and flowed with solid tackling form the backs making up for numerous handling errors.
A series of pick and drives from Apisai Bati, Tsukasa Takasugi & Murray Clarke was followed up by Basque No.8 Paulo de Berriozabal going straight through the ruck and shrugging off two defenders to score. Score: 10v0.
From the kickoff, de Berriozabal took the ball in his own 22 metre area and made it to halfway with a ferocious bumping run dragging defenders with him. It came to little unfortunately for the Gaijin, when on the other side of the field moments later, winger Daisuke Ikegami was tackled and an Akanegahama player came out with the ball and ran down the blind side (Ikegami's wing) untouched to score a 40 metre try. They missed their conversion to make the score 10v5 to the Gaijin. Game on!
The first score of the second half came after some good leadup work by the Gaijin backs. Tristan O'Connor made a good break from within his own half and managed to slip the ball to Ikegami as the defense closed in on him. The ball was then passed off to the Lonnie 'Black Pearl' Childress who had the goose-step working and then threw a speculator inside ball. The loose ball was left-footed ahead by Blake Walker in towards the goal line. The fullback was eventually trapped inside his goal line by excellent defense forcing a 5 metre scrum. From the scrum,scrumhalf Trsitan O'Connor went stright through the defense to score a try under the posts after a clever dummy. Walker again missed the conversion to leave the score at 15 v 5.
There followed a period of play inside the Gaijin's 22 metre line with dropped balls, penalties and silly options negating from any good play.
This period of poor play was broken by a handy kick and good defense. Toshi Miyano kicked downfield and Daisuke Ikegami caught the receiver in a tackle on halfway. The receiver was stranded and the gaijin arrived in waves and won the ball. The Gaijin were soon on a roll with good rucking. An inside ball from Apisai Bati To prop Tsukasa Takasugi bamboozled the defense and the big prop strolled over for a try. Yamagen missed the conversion. Score: 20 v 5 to the TGRFC.
Not long after another inside ball from Bati inside his own half created space for O'Connor who made 30 metres upfield. Unfortunately more errors once again negated from promising moves, and once again good defense was to come to the fore. Strong defense forced a turnover in midfield and Hitoshi Chihara raced away to score. Unfortunately, in what was a shocking day for the goalkickers Yamagen missed, leaving the score 25 v 5 to the Gaijin.
Akanegahama was to have one more lash and probably should have scored but tenacious defense from Childress and Yamagen knocked the ball out of the attackers hand when they were facing a 3 man overlap, leaving the final score 25 v 5 to the Tokyo Gaijin RFC.
It was an error-strewn game with some poor handling skills on display which does not auger well for next weekend when the team plays Supermen, one of the best amateur teams in Tokyo. The midfield defense was very good however. The Gaijin scrum was also solid and they had outplayed Akanegahama in the rucking and mauling department. Man of the Match was given to Shinichiro Nakayama who was all over the park in both attack and defense.
After the game the guys went over to Izakaya Beramie to farewell Tsukasa Takasugi, who is moving down to Fukuoka for a year, and celebrate Yamagen's 44th birthday. We wish Tsukasa & his wife all the best and hope he rejoins the Gaijin on his return.
SCORE: TGRFC 25 (M.Clarke 1, P. de Berriozabal 1, T. O'Connor 1, T. Takasugi 1, H. Chihara 1 tries, B. Walker 0/3 goals, Yamagen 0/2 goals) Akanegahama 5 (1 try)
1. Warren Adamson (vc) (South Africa)
2. Liam Ramshaw (England)
3. Tsukasa Takasugi (Japan)
4. Shintaro Yamamoto (Japan)
5. Murray Clarke (NZ)
6. Apisai Bati (Fiji)
7. Shinichiro Nakayama(Japan)
8. Paulo de Berriozabal (Basque)
9. Tristan O'Connor (Australia)
10. Toshi Miyano (Japan)
11. Charles Joffre (France)
12. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)
13. Daisuke Ikegami (Japan)
14. Lonnie Childress (USA)
15. Blake Walker (NZ)
Reserves: Takeshi Koba (Japan); Angga Wirastomo (Indonesia); Natsu Kunitomo (Japan); Akira Yamagen (Japan); Ikuo Fukuda (Japan); Tomonari Nakagaki (Japan); Ryogo (Japan)