Dateline: 25th September, 2011
The Gaijin had their second game of the Shuto League 2011 against Olivers RFC at Hodogaya Rugby Field in Yokohama. Olivers were a bit of an unknown quantity as they had joined the Shuto League in 2010 and went through the Second Division with just the one loss, to fellow First Division newcomers, Komaba Watermelon Men. The Gaijin knew that Olivers had a big forward pack, and a very handy centre that helped the Shuto League Select team break a 9 year drought and beat the Tama League Select team last year.
The ground was completely unaffected by the typhoon and subsequent heavy rain deluges of the previous days as it was astroturf (synthetic grass). The ground also had a lovely grandstand giving supporters a very good view of the action.
The Gaijin had lost a few backs from the big turnout last game and eventually had to go with a new combination in the centres with regular centre David Chan partnering Mojee Rarasea, who had played prop the previous game. Sam Deroeck, who had played wing in his debut the previous game, switched to fullback.
The Gaijin, running left to right, were guilty of a few handling errors early with the new centre combination having some gelling problems. Olivers showed their hand early when they had a crack at field goal at the 4th minute mark. They were unsuccessful. Were they just keen to accumulate points quickly or were they worried about the strength of the Gaijin. Afterall, the Gaijin had put Fuji Club to the sword last week in a convincing 62 v 12 win.
They were soon aware of the Gaijin team's firepower when centre Mosese Rarasea broke through a few tackles from a scrum on halfway and powered towards the Olivers line. He found Shinichiro Nakayama in support and offloaded. Nakayama was caught just short of the line but a quick recycle saw Takashi Tanikawa pick up the ball from the back of the ruck and dive over. Toshi Miyano converted the try to make the score 7 v 0 at the 7th minute mark.
Olivers went close to reducing the deficit soon after when they received a penalty on the Gaijin 22 metre line. The penalty attempt missed though and there was a mix-up in the Oliver's call and Richard O'Shea snaffled the 22 metre drop-out from them. There was a quick clearance kick from Toshi Miyano and the Gaijin defenders managed to push the receiver into touch. The Gaijin had found good ground by forcing Olivers into errors but they were again penalised from the ensuing lineout.
Mosese Rarasea was coming up quick in defense causing Olivers to rush their passes and get sloppy but they finally broke through and looked to be on their way to the tryline until Sam Deroeck pulled off a try-saving tackle. Continued pressure though saw Deroeck penalised in front of his posts soon after for not releasing the tackled player. Olivers declined the shot at goal and instead took a quick tap and went right and put through a chip kick. Alaister Nimmo took it well inside the massive in-goal area but the referee brought it back as he adjudged the Gaijin backs to be offside. Olivers again took a quick tap and went to the left this time and scored in the left corner after having a three man overlap. They failed to convert leaving the Gaijin marginally in front at 7 v 5.
From the next set piece after the kickoff Rarasea dropped the ball. Olivers then made a long break from the following scrum. The centre kicked ahead for his winger and he won the race for the ball. However as he dived at the ball, which by then was over the tryline, he knocked it on. The Gaijin had got out of jail and continued to hold their lead.
The Gaijin were struggling for territory as their scrum struggled for parity, in complete contrast to their dominace last game. Were they missing young Tommy Nasuno who had returned to England through the week? With the only back-up prop playing in the centres Natsu Kunitomo and Chris Lucas would have to nut it out for 70 minutes (Yes! The Shuto League has 35 minute halves). The big Olivers front row got too much for Natsu Kunitomo though and he meekly surrendered and limped off the field. Usual backup hooker Gaz Dalrymple manned up and took on the propping duties for the rest of the game (and did quite well too!).
The next score was to be for the Tokyo Gaijin when Nik Pasevic quickly tapped the second of two successive ruck penalties and charged thrrough some rather feeble defense to score. Toshi Miyano converted and the Gaijin were feeling good at 14 v 5 in front. This score held until halftime.
The half had been fairly even with Olivers, with a slight breeze at their backs, dominating territory and having slightly more possession. Both teams had made a lot of mistakes but Olivers had probably been pressured into making more. The big Olivers scrum, especially their very meaty front rowers, were causing the Gaijin a lot of trouble but as the half wore on the Gaijin were managing to hold them....just. Fullback Sam Deroeck was causing the Olivers outside backs lots of problems with quite a few probling runs and half-breaks. The Gaijin centres had shut down the very good Olivers representative centre to the point that he seemed to be a 'no show'.
Both teams started the second half knowing that the first to score would be in the box seat. The Gaijin were the first to launch a promising attack with some good phase play and great handling, with Shinichiro Nakayama heavily involved. Unfortunately David Chan knocked on and the Gaijin hopes of being first on the board took a slide.
The scrum was still in trouble and halfback Alistair Nimmo was under immense pressure from the Olivers halfback as he tried to get the ball out of a scrum coming back on him each time. He generally managed to do quite well and one such scrum saw him bobble a ball to Sam Deroeck on the bounce. Deroeck outstripped three defenders on the outside, crossed the tryline out near the corner flag and then raced around to score under the posts. The try had seemingly come from nothing. It was pure pace and will that had seen Deroeck make a try from a situation that looked far from promising as the scrum wheeled backwards once again. Miyano converted to have the Gaijin out to a much more comfortable 21 v 5 lead.
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC then extended their lead when Daisuke Ikegami finished off a move he started. Little Toshi Miyano forced a turnover with a great 'ball and all' tackle. The ball was then swung wide and Ikegami made a long break. As the cover converged he passed it on and it went through a few more hands and ended with Alistair Nimmo on the ground. Surprisingly prop Chris Lucas was the first to the ruck and the ball was spun to Shinichiro Nakayama, then to David Chan, and finally back into the hands of Ikegami who finished it off next to thee posts. Miyano was again successful with the conversion and the score was now 28 v 5.
Olivers knew they had to be next to score if they had any chance of a victory and worked their way upfield with a renewed intensity and a string of penalties to aid them. They eventually took a quick tap from a penalty and went straight through a couple of Gaijin forwards anchored on the tryline. They failed to convert though leaving the score at 28 v 10.
The Gaijin all but sealed up the win a few minutes later when Toshi Miyano was instructed to shoot for goal by captain Alistair Nimmo after his team earned a penalty on the Olivers' 22 metre line. It was to be the only kick that Miyano would miss all day as it struck the posts. Daisuke Ikegami, following up as all good wingers should, was the first to the rebound and strolled through a tackle on the line to score next to the posts. This time Miyano was succesful with the kick and the Gaijin had a seemingly unassailable 35 v 10 lead.
To ensure there would be no passivity from the Gaijin, who may have gone to sleep a bit thinking they had the game tied up, Olivers RFC responded with a quick try to knock them out of their slumber. A poor chip kick from replacement winger Ikuo Fukuda went straight into his opposite number's hands and was spun through a few sets of hands and then down a yawning gap on the blind. Sam Deroeck did his best to halt the play but the ball was passed off in his tackle and the Olivers player was allowed to race over near the side line then all the way around 'til under the posts. The try was converted and the score was now 35 v 17.
The Gaijin responded with good pressure from the kickoff and forced a turnover. A strong run from David Chan made the Gaijin some valuable ground and sucked in a number of defenders. This created space out on the right and saw Nik Pasevic, sea-gulling out in the backs as all good locks should, charge through a big hole in the defense and dot down next to the posts. Once again Miyano was successful and the score had shot out to 42 v 17 in favour of the Gaijin.
There was to be another promising attack from the Gaijin but the last pass from Daniel Worden to Mosese Rarasea was adjudged to be forward and the teams trudged off a few minutes later with the score at 42 v 17. The Gaijin were all smiles, having conquered a team that was expected to press for the title this year. The front row had battled hard and got a full game out of Chris Lucas....a rarity. Gaz Dalrymple had held his ground pretty well against some much bigger boys. There will be some sore bodies tomorrow for those boys. The Gaijin flankers were impressive with Shinichiro Nakayama a standout and eventual Gaijin Man of the Match. He was 'Mr Perpetual Motion' with a non-stop display of excellent open-side flanker work that Richie McCaw would be proud of. In the backs, captain Alistair Nimmo marshalled his players well, the centre pairing of David Chan and Mosese Rarasea improved as the game went on and Sam Deroeck was the important cog at the back that stopped a lot of Olivers' attacks and iniated a lot of the Gaijin attack. Apart from one or two blemishes, everything he did seemed to turn to gold. The opposition agreed with that sentiment when they awarded him with their Man of the Match award (not to be confused with the Gaijin Man of the Match award).
SCORE : TGRFC 42 (Nik Pasevic 2, Daisuke Ikegami 2, Takashi Tanikawa 1, Sam Deroeck 1, Toshi Miyano 6/6 conversions, 0/1 penalties) v OLIVERS RFC 17 (3 tries, 1/3 conversions, 0/1 penalties)
MAN OF THE MATCH: Sam Deroeck & Shinichiro Nakayama
GOAT OF THE MATCH: Natsu Kunitomo (for wimping out and forcing a hooker to play prop....and for almost forgetting the jerseys at the bus stop).
1. Chris Lucas (Australia)
2. Liam Ramshaw (England)
3. Natsu Kunitomo (Japan)
4. Nik Pavesic (Croatia)
5. Richard O'Shea (vc) (Wales)
6. Paulo de Berriozabal (Basque)
7. Shinichiro Nakayama (Japan)
8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
9. Alaister Nimmo (c) (England)
10. Toshi Miyano (Japan)
11. Daisuke Ikegami (Japan)
12. Mosese Rarasea (Fiji)
13. David Chan (Australia)
14. Brian O'Brien (USA)
15. Sam Deroeck (England)
Reserves used: Gaz Dalrymple (Scotland), Andy Ballard (England), Ismael Suarez (Spain), Daniel Worden (NZ), Takeshi Ochiai (Japan), Ikuo Fukuda (Japan), Wataru Sato (Japan), Yamagen (Japan)