Dateline: 15th May, 2011
With the Great North-east Japan Earthquake shortening the Tokyo Cup season, 'Friendly' games have been the flavor of the month. The Tokyo Gaijin were hoping to get back in the winners' circle after two recent defeats and took on one of the better teams in Division 2 in the Waikiki Banians. After being behind 12 v 0 at the break, they stormed home to win 20 v 12 in a mudbath.
The TGRFC had spent the morning doing a Collaboration Day as part of their Tokyo Cup duties and had watched a great game of rugby between the Tama Club and Supermen, in searing heat. The boys had got up at the crack of dawn to be out at Hino Motors Rugby Ground and easily accomplished what little tasks were asked of them....put out the flags, put up the tent, carry some tables etc etc. They could then sit in the shade and watch two of the premier amateur teams in Tokyo. The game was won by the Tama Club in hot and humid conditions, something the Gaijin boys were not looking forward to playing in later that afternoon. By the time of their kickoff at 2:30pm though, dark clouds had appeared and the heavens opened. Yanokuchi Field, normally a dustbowl of late, turned into a Fish pond.
The Gaijin had two former players back on their team-list in Garren 'Gaz' Dalrymple, returning from 2 years in Kobe, and Takeshi Ochiai, returning after taking some time off to get use to his first job out of University. With Club Captain Alaister Nimmo on a 3 month sabbatical away from Japan, Vice Captain Richard O'Shea stepped into the Captain's role. This also meant that Ryogo Takemura was having his first start at halfback.
The slippery conditions underfoot were causing havoc and plays were not exactly going to plan for both teams. Players were constantly screaming for water as they couldn't open their eyes due to being covered in mud and grit. Starting halfback Ryogo Takemura had to leave the field early with ankle trouble. Hitoshi Chihara moved from inside centre to halfback. Yamagen came on at fullback and Jo Iwasaki switched to the centres.
Vice Captain Richard O'Shea was heavily concussed midway through the first half and taken off to hospital. Paulo de Berriozabal took over the captaincy for the rest of the match.
Two early tries by the Waikiki Banians had shocked the TGRFC and they trudged off at halftime to a 12 v o deficit. Loose defense in the backline was the cause and most of the conversation at halftime centred on tightening the defense up.
The Gaijin came home strongly in the second half on the back of superior mauling and rucking. The bigger forwards seemed to relish the heavy, wet conditions. Chris Lucas had one of his best games for quite a while and was rewarded with a try after powering through a few tackles after taking the ball from the base of a ruck.
Jo Iwasaki had already scored 2 tries after strong direct running - his first double in his career. Alex Glover had interspersed the Iwasaki double with a typical bust and powerful, tackle-shedding run to continue his try-scoring fest of recent weeks.
The Gaijin maul was particluarly strong and made good advances upfield on quite a few occassions. Paulo de Berriozabal, Alex Glover and Joffa Harris made good charges and the Gaijin support players were quick to protect their own ball. This led to the Gaijin dominating both possession and territory in the second half.
SCORE: Tokyo Gaijin RFC 20 ( Jo Iwaski 2, Liam Ramshaw 1, Chris Lucas 1 tries, Yamagen 0/4 conversions) Waikiki Banians 12 (2 tries, 1/2 conversions)
MAN OF THE MATCH: Alex Glover
Goat of the Game: Yamagen
1. Chris Lucas (Australia)
2. Liam Ramshaw (England)
3. Natsuhiko Kunitomo (Japan)
4. Richard O'Shea (c) (Wales)
5. Alex Glover (England)
6. Akio Yoneda (Japan)
7. Shinchiro Nakayama (Japan)
8. Paulo de Berriozabal (Basque)
9. Ryogo Takemura (Japan)
10. Toshi Miyano (Japan)
11. Yoshihiro Sato (Japan)
12. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)
13. Tristan O'Connor (Australia)
14. Brian O'Brien (USA)
15. Jo Iwasaki (Japan)
Reserves: Gaz Dalrymple (Scotland); Takeshi Koba (Japan); Takeshi Ochiai (Japan); Joffa Harris (Australia); Charles Joffre (France); Yamagen (Japan); Jeff Holland (USA)