Tokyo Gaijin 29 Waikiki Banians 20
?The pitch is terrible, the build-up has been useless,? said captain Fisher minutes before kick-off, ?I?ve played fifty games with some of you, and this is my first game with others. In other words, it?s a typical Gaijin game, so let?s get out there and win it.?
In his last game of XV?s for the club, Fisher was in combative mood, and he led from the front throughout this competitive and enjoyable match. New opponents the Banians had the predictable Japanese virtues of organisation and speed, but in what was also Mike Taylor?s final outing, the Gaijin had all the passion.
So much so, especially if we include Joe and Mike?s farewell party after the match, that it?s hard to remember exactly what happened. Against type, the Gaijin played wide early, and Ian Roy made some telling breaks only for the moves to falter close to the opposition line. Debutant French winger Arno van den Bossche showed well, and it?s possible he believes the Gaijin wingers always see this much ball. In fact, Steve Bull was so jealous that he became more involved in the first twenty minutes than in several previous matches put together.
Another newcomer to the backs, Tomoaki Mizawa, had a storming game at outside centre, and with Mark Pearson and Chris Lucas solid in the set piece, it was something of a surprise for the Gaijin to go in with a deficit of two tries to one at half-time. Inspired to give Joe and Mike a decent send-off, everything changed in the second half.
A well-executed catch and drive led to a collective try for the forwards, though Yukio Suyama may have had the touch-down. Ian Roy then raced over from longish distance for a well-deserved score. As the match and Murray Clarke became increasingly feisty, the Banians came back into it, but it was the robust Kitahara who sealed the win with a cleverly worked set move from a penalty. He tapped it to himself, his entire team shouted ?No, Kitahara, no!? which distracted the opposition just long enough for the wily prop to scoot over in the corner.
Joe Fisher attempted the conversion.