Dateline: October 9th, 2011
The Gaijin RFC gathered at the beautiful Toshiba Brave Lupus company team ground at Kita Fuchu in preparation for there much-looked forward to annual game against the Japanese National Deaf team, the All Quiet Typhoon. The mixture of deaf and partially deaf boys obviously suffer from depth with a small playing pool to choose from but always put up a brave, spirited effort. They were using the game as a step in their preparation for upcoming games against the visiting Silent Knights from Australia and a deaf team from New Zealand next month in Nagoya.
The game started rather promisingly for the All Quiet Typhoon with their backs teasing the TGRFC new centre combination and making half-breaks at will. Their number 10 was making plenty of probing runs and causing lots of headaches for the defense. They looked like scoring early when their inside centre made fun of the Gaijin centres, but a classy cover tackle from Daniel Worden saved the Gaijin from early misery.
Two penalties in succession aftre a lost lineout got the Gaijin into the deaf team's 22 metre area but loose ball in the centres meant the deaf team was able to clear the ball to halfway to relieve pressure. This got the All Quiet Typhoon pumping and after a period of concerted pressure their number 8 charged through about 4 defenders to score from a quick penalty tap kick. The try was converted and the All Quiet Typhoon had got out to a well-earned 7 v 0 lead.
The centre combination was not working for the Gaijin with loose passes when something looked on and some bad reads in the defensive line. Things began to look rosier for them when Shinichiro Nakayama came on as a replacement for Yoz Togo at the 20 minute mark. Togo has slowly been working up his match fitness after a while out of the game due to a knee injury. Nakayama made an immmediate impact with good on-the-ball rucking and instantly earning the Gaijin a penalty. From the lineout Nik Pavesic stretched over the line with a big one-hander about 15 metres in from touch to finally get the Gaijin on the board. Dave Middleditch, kicking the old-fashioned way by making a hole in the ground, converted to draw the scores even at 7 v 7.
The Gaijin were now starting to play a bit more confidently as evidenced soon after when Dan Worden put captain Alaister Nimmo into a hole. The good break almost came to nothing with some more loose passes but big Joe Nawaqavanua picked up the loose ball and strode 30 metres upfield knocking away defenders. A quick ruck 2 metres out saw Nik Pavesic get his second try down the blind. This time Middleditch was unsuccessful but the Gaijin had taken the lead 12 v 7.
Continued good rucking just before haftime saw the Gaijin go over the tryline again. A low crappy ball from half Alaister Nimmo hit charging prop Chris Lucas in the legs as he steamrolled for the line from close range. There was no way anyone was going to stop him but you can't score a try without the ball. The ball had come off his legs though and Lucas dived on it as he crossed the line and the referee decided that all was fair and awarded the try. It was alter learnt that the ball was knocked down as Nimmo passed from an offside player, which was unspotted from the sideline. Lucas will probably claim it was all skill and he had meant to dribble the ball off his shins but the jury will definitely not agree with that. The conversion was unsuccessful leaving the halftime scoreline at 17 v 7 to the TGRFC.
A few changes were made at halftime and the Tokyo Gaijin RFC began the second half with confidence as they felt they were starting to get on top of their oppostion. A strong lineout from the Gaijin team began to spoil the opposition's ball and the scrum started to dominate. From the back of one such dominant scrum, replacement number 8, Joffa Harris, peeled off the back, ran past two players and selflessly passed to Epi Tabulawaki to swandive into the corner for a try, his first for the TGRFC. Middleditch failed wth the conversion from the sideline. Scoreline: 22 v 7.
Strong forward play from the Gaijin was usually followed by loose passing in the backs, often leading to knock-ons or the All Quiet Typhoon being forced to kick out of defense. The scrappy defense and loose passing from the backs continued until the All Quiet Typhoon made them pay with a try after one of their backs cut through the Gaijin backline. They failed to convert but edged closer on the scoreboard 22 v 12.
The Gaijin were to have the last say in the game with a thrid try to Nik Pavesic. After some strong forward play and good pass out to the backs Joao Pinto was tackled but the ball was quickly recycled, Hitoshi Chihara was almost through but then a quick pick and drive by Pavesic saw him crash over. Yamagen pulled the kick to the left making the final score 27 v 12.
The Gaijin bombed three certain tries as the game entered the final stages with 'white line fever' being the culprit. Shinichiro Nakayama, in perhaps his only blemish in the game, chose to charge at the tryline with a huge overlap to his right, and was mobbed by tacklers and the Fijian connection of Epi Tabulawaki and Mosese 'Mojee' Rarasea were both caught short of the line when passing to unmarked supports would have been the smarter option.
It had been quite a tough game with the deaf team having improved immensely on last years effort. Their inside backs possess a good stepping game and silky smooth footwork which constantly troubled the Gaijin defenders. The All Quiet Typhoon No. 8, looking like the six million dollar man with all those bandages around his appendages, also took on a lot of the heavy work and threw himself into tacklers in defense and had some brutal charges in attack.
For the Gaijin, Nik Pavesic obviously had an important influence on the game with 3 tries and big Joe Nawaqavanua was chosen as the opposition's Man of the Match for some bullocky runs and for how hard he was for them to tackle. Incidenatlly, it was Nawaqavanua's first game at flanker for the Gaijin as he usually plays centre. It was a good move as he proved to be very aggressive on the ball and strong in the tackle. The Gaijin team's own choice for Man of the Match went to Shinichiro Nakayama who got through a big workload in both attack and defense and was alway ever present on the ball. Andy Ballard was awarded the Goat of the Game for a rather ridiculous kick. With the Gaijin on the attack midway through the second half Ballard pulled the ball out of a ruck close to the sideline and tried to do a box-kick that looped up over the ruck and straight into touch right in front of the grandstand. It spoiled all momentum. Fourie du Preez he aint!!!
The Gaijin inside backs struggled with their new combinations and were let down by poor handling and miscommunication in defense. Hopefully nothing a bit of training can't fix!
As usual, the All Quiet Typhoon put on an excellent after-match function with beer and dinner. Awards were dished out and speeches made, with a lot of translating going on. The Tokyo Gaijin RFC wish the All Quiet Typhoon the greatest success in their upcoming matches against the deaf teams from Australia and New Zealand. Go the ALL QUIET TYPHOONS!!
SCORE: TGRFC 27 (Nik Pavesic 3, Chris Lucas 1, Epi Tabulawaki 1 tries, David Middleditch 1/4 conversions, Yamagen 0/1 conversions) All Quiet Typhoon 12 (2 tries , 1/2 conversions)
Man of the Match: Shinichiro Nakayama
Goat of the Match: Andy Ballard
1. Chris Lucas (Australia)
2. Liam Ramshaw (England)
3. Gaz Dalrymple (Scotland)
4. Richard O'Shea (vc) (Wales)
5. Nik Pavesic (Croatia)
6. Joe Nawaqavanua (Fiji)
7. Yoz Togo (Japan)
8. Daniel Worden (NZ)
9. Alaister Nimmo (c) (England)
10. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)
11. Brian O'Brien (USA)
12. Ikuo Fukuda (Japan)
13. Joao Pinto (Portugal)
14. Wataru Sato (Japan)
15. David Middleditch (England)
Reserves: Natsu Kunitomo (Japan), Mosese Rarasea (Fiji), Andy Ballard (England), Joffa Harris (Australia), Shinichiro Nakayama (Japan), Ryogo Takemura (Japan), Yoshihiro Sato (Japan), Epi Tabulawaki (Fiji), Yamagen (Japan)