Dateline: 24th April, 2011

The Tokyo Gaijin continued to warm up for the upcoming Tokyo Cup season with a trial game against fellow Division One team Musashino Ruggers. In the last encounter between the two teams, Musashino Ruggers had come out winners, a game in which the Gaijin captain at the time, Murray Clarke, was sent off, lesssening their chances of victory. Former Gaijin player, Shaunne Hughes, on business from Australia, was having a guest appearance for his old club and Gen Mishima was having his first game for the Gaijin.

With the Musashino Ruggers kicking off with a strong wind in their backs, most realised that if the Gaijin stayed close on the scoreboard then they could come home strongly in the second half. Onlookers believed that it could be a 15 point breeze. The Musashino Ruggers showed their intent early as they camped inside the Tokyo Gaijin half for the first 5 minutes of the match. The first foray into the Musahino half  for the TGRFC came from a kick and a good drive off a lineout. Musahino won the lineout but the Gaijin forwards drove over the top to secure possession. The ball was spun across the field and with the Gaijin loose forwards across quickly to retain possession the team finally got the go-forward they needed. Soon after Alex Glover capitalized on this to break through a few tackles to score. Hence the Gaijin were the first to put points on the board and led 5v0 after an unsuccessful conversion.

The Gaijin were then under pressure in their own half again soon after. A kick from Andy Ballard from the back of a ruck, which seemed like a poor option at the time, was made into a positive when Hitoshi Chihara  and David Chan put a good tag-team tackle on the receiver and forced a turnover. The forwards were quickly in behind and the Gaijin were making metres upfield until prop Natsu Kunitomo knocked the ball on.

The Gaijin then found themselves back in their own half and defending resolutely after a string of penalties against them. The strong defense then fell apart out wide when Musashino had extra numbers down the right flank and a missed tackle led to an easy try to the men in green. Scores even at 5 v 5.

Soon after  Gaijin flanker Shinichiro Nakayama pulled off the tackle of the game when he absolutely smashed the Musashino winger into touch on a blind side move from a scrum. Good rolling maul play then had the Gaijin set up on the 5 metre line for a lineout. An ensuing penalty against Musashino had the Gaijin forwards charging at the line. Unfortunately prop Takeshi Koba had the ball stripped from his arms as he went at the line and the promising play broke down. Overzealousness had denied the Gaijin a try.

The Musashino Ruggers made the Gaijin team pay as they worked their way into the Gaijin 22 metre area with a string of penalties for ruck infringements. It was during this stage of the game that the Gaijin lost their vice-captain and forward leader, Rich O'Shea, to a heavy head knock.

A break from Musashino should probably have led to the next points of the game but the ball was dropped and the Gaijin almost turned it into points for themselves. Dave Chan picked up the loose ball and raced upfield. He was run down from behind though and threw a shocking pass inside to Charles Joffre, who knocked on.

Musashino Ruggers made them pay for the let-off when they kicked downfield. As the Gaijin fullback Brian O'Brien, who had shifted there at halftime, turned to face the oncoming defenders he was met with a green wall. He got hammered but managed to throw the ball to replacement winger Yamagen. Yamagen slipped in the mud and was swarmed by defenders, had to give up the ball, and a Musashino player ran in to score. The Musashino Ruggers made the try due to a great chase but perhaps the two Gaijin players could have done better with more communication and a little more urgency in support. The try was converted and the Musashino Ruggers hit the lead. Score 12 v 5 to the Musashino side.

The Gaijin had kept in touch on the scoreboard and would have surely gone into the halftime break thinking that they were well and truly in the game as the strong breeze would be at their backs. A strong chasing game would be necessary to back that up. The loose forwards of the Gaijin side would need to continue their excellent breakdown work.

Things did not start too well for the Gaijin though when centre David Chan was caught out in a sweeping backline move by the Ruggers. They made a long break downfield and in a 2 on 1 situation with the Gaijin fullback, should have scored. The ball carrier drew Brian O'Brien but the Musashino winger knocked on saving the Gaijin from early misery.

The Gaijin worked their way back up field with good rucking. Alex Glover forced a penalty and then charged his way over from the quick tap, through a few would-be defenders, to make it a double for the game. The conversion was missed leaving the TGRFC narrowly behind but smelling victory with the wind behind them.

It was not to be though, as the Gaijin got sloppy. Good work would break down and defenders started missing tackles. At the 65 minute mark, superior numbers down the right side of the field led to a Musashino try despite a good tackle by Yamagen. The conversion made the final score 19 v 10 to the Musashino Ruggers.

The Gaijin had played very well in the first half and defended stoutly. Their forwards looked superior and were winning the breakdown but the strong breeze against them made yards tough and kicking for territory a real challenge. The game was there for the taking by the Gaijin at halftime but they lost their way with the wind at their backs. Opportunities were lost and poor options taken. The forwards had worked hard all game and eventual Man of the Match Liam Ramshaw, and Alex Glover, had run the ball strongly. Akio Yoneda and Shinichiro Nakayama were everywhere in defense and attack and speedy to breakdowns. The Gaijin backs had shown areas of promise but were outplayed by their opposition, with all three of the Musahino tries coming through their backs.

SCORE: Musashino Ruggers 19 (3 tries, 2/3 conversion) TGRFC 10 (Alex Glover 2 tries, Toshi Miyano 0/2 goals)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Liam Ramshaw

Goat of the Match: Akira 'Yamagen' Yamamoto

TEAM:

1. Natsu Kunitomo (Japan)

2. Liam Ramshaw (England)

3. Takeshi Koba (Japan)

4. Richard O'Shea (Wales)

5. Andy Ballard (England)

6. Akio Yoneda (Japan)

7. Shinichiro Nakayama (Japan)

8. Alex Glover (England)

9. Ryogo Takemura (Japan)

10. Toshi Miyano (Japan)

11. Brian O'Brien (USA)

12. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)

13. David Chan (Australia)

14.Ikuo Fukuda (Japan)

15.Alaister Nimmo (England)

RESERVES: Angga Witastomo (Indonesia); Ken Asakura (Japan); Sean Hughes (Australia); Aaron Nutsford (NZ); Gen Mishima (Japan); Akira 'Yamagen' Yamamoto (Japan); Charles Joffre (France); Yoshihiro Sato (Japan)