Dec 18th 2004, Gaijin 14 Doronco 0
On December 18th on a lush, convex playing pitch (or was in convex? Or even concular?!) Tokyo Gaijin?s playing year drew to a close in spectacular fashion. Doronco, a Tokyo cup second division team, promised to be stiff competition and a hard game was anticipated.
Strong starts have been conspicuously absent for the Gaijin in 2004, so It came as a surprise to many, especially the wheezing, heavily ?muscled? Gaijin pack, for the bulk of the opening twenty to be played in the Doronco 22. Joffa Harris and Mauro Sauco saw plenty of ball and the athletic Heats Devlin provided plenty of support at openside. Rucking and Mauling were both committed and efficient, therefore Blake Walker squeezed in his customary injury as play was halted leaving him with rolling eyes and a sore head. Much the same as a visit from the beer monkey eh Blake?.
Despite the strong start, however, the opening try owed as much to good fortune as to good rugby. After a series of Scrums in which Mark Pearson and Takayuki Kitajima dominated, clearance kicks were put into touch on the right touchline, and, in one case, straight along the goal line. Takeshi Takada caught and, in the manner of a crazed gorilla, Joffa stormed over near the posts. Fly half Richard Beard calmly converted and The Gaijin were 7-0 up. However, this boost served only to motivate Doronco who correspondingly made attacks on both wings and up the middle. A series of quasi-deranged tackles by Niall Conlon, Steve Bull and Jyoh Iwasaki though ensured The Gaijin line remained intact. Shaun Hughes also prevented a try after first stealing a line out, and later administering a bone cracking tackle on one of the Doronco wingers. Blake capped a successful first half shutout with a last gasp tackle on an airborne Doronco back.
Substitutes at and just after the break saw Mike Taylor limp away with an ankle injury and Chris Lucas take the field to keep up momentum in the scrum. Joffa and Mauro also took a break to allow Dave Kelver and Arthur Strang onto the pitch. The substitutes had the desired effect of keeping up the intensity up front and The Gaijin correspondingly took a firmer grip of the game.
This increase of confidence saw the dynamic hooker So Nagashima made a great break up the middle, however support was absent. Recent Rugby league convert Corey Beatson also made an impact coming on at fullback for Ian Roy. The highlight was a streaking run up the wing, back down again, across the 10 yard line for a chat with the centres, finally forward up the middle and finally running out of creativity and breath before passing.
As a result of all this pressure, Richard and Niall combined to put one of Steve Bull or Shaun over, Shaun?s ?arms like an orang-utan? won out. The ?more experienced Jonny Wilkinson? Richard again converted and 14-0 put a bit of space between the teams. The game, however, wound down like the season until Mark Pearson put in a thundering tackle on both the surviving Doronco winger and Corey, leaving the latter to moan and gibber quietly on the touchline. The game ended fittingly enough though with a try for Ian Roy in the corner complete with a fantastic, sprawling, ball-juggling (and in no way whatsoever controversial) dive over after Blake?s sharp pass from a five-yard scrum.
Overall, a great defensive contribution into which all players contributed and enjoyed. Certainly plenty of reason for a few cheeky ales later in the evening.
Men of the Match: Shaun Hughes(Australia) Ian Roy(England)
Squad: Ian Roy (England), Steve Bull (England), Jyoh Iwasaki (Japan), Niall Conlon (Great Britain), Takeshi Takada (Japan), Richard Beard (England), Blake Walker (New Zealand), Joffa Harris (Australia), Heats Devlin (Australia), Shaun Hughes (Australia), Mike Taylor (England), Mauro Sauco (Argentina), Takayuki Kitjima(Japan), So Nagashima (Japan), Mark Pearson (USA), Corey Beatson (Australia), Dave Kelver (USA), Arthur Strang (England), Chris Lucas (Australia)