Dateline: 11th November, 2012
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC has finished their Shuto League commitments for 2012 with a comprehensive flogging of Tento Mushi to the tune of 63 v 0. The platform for the big win was set by the powerful Gaijin scrum which had their opposition pack going backwards all day, and excellent defense. Unfortunately the two bonus points was not enough to overtake Olivers RFC who went through the competition undefeated and gained enough bonus points to stay ahead of the Gaijin on the points table. This means the Gaijin will be giving up their title as Shuto League Champions, a title they have held for 4 years in a row, after coming a narrow second on the table.
The game was held at the immaculate Inagi Stadium which has one of the better surfaces of all the grounds used in the competition. Tento Mushi RFC (or the Lady bugs), is generally one of the better teams in the Shuto League, on performances over the past few years. Despite missing their usual halves combination of Captain Alaister Nimmo and Toshi Miyano, and regular locks Richard O'Shea and Jesse Takahashi, the Tokyo Gaijin RFC went into the game aiming to win two bonus points; one for scoring 4 tries or more and one for keeping their opposition scoreless.
Very early in the game the domination of the Gaijin scrum was visible with the Tento Mushi pack disintegrating under the powerful shove of the Gaijin pack in the first few scrums of the game. This allowed the Gaijin backs to get on the front foot and make good yardage. Within 5 minutes of the start captain Shinichiro Nakayama was over the tryline. The conversion by Mosese Rarasea was unsuccesful. Score: 5 v 0 to the TGRFC.
Joffa Harris would be next to score but not until he had gone close twice before. The first effort was a nice ball from hooker Liam Ramshaw from a short line-out. Harris charged at the defense, bumped off a defender, and just a couple of metres out from the tryline had the ball knocked from his grasp from behind and a certain try went begging. He was over again a couple of minutes later, ball in hand this time, but the referee managed to get in the road, even though he was basically already over the line. The referee had no hesitation in not allowing the try and setting a scrum, frustrating the easily frustrated Harris. From another short line-out minutes later he finally got the try he was hunting when the ball was quickly recycled from a ruck and Harris drove at the defense, spun out of the tackle, and dived over. The conversion by Rarasea was successful and the Gaijin now led 12 v 0.
Shinichiro got himself an early double soon after when the Tento Mushi RFC tried to swing the ball wide on their own 22 metre line and Nakayama gleefully accepted an intercept and raced in to score about 10 metres to the left of the posts. Rarasea stepped up to nail the conversion and the Gaijin now led 19 v 0.
The next try was all forwards' work when John 'Viking' Herger smashed his way through the defense and found a hole. He made good yards up the field. As the defense closed in he managed to offload to Liam Ramshaw who did the same and Lachlan Ainsley finished off the movement involving the whole front row, to score under the posts. Rarasea converted to give the Gaijin a very handy 26 v 0 lead at halftime.
The half had been dominated by the Gaijin RFC in all facets of the game. The scrum was the big talking point as the opposition scrum simply dinintegrated in front of them at times. There were constant resets and one of the Tento Mushi props had been yellow carded in the latter part of the half for constantly breaking the rules of engagement. Not only were Props Lachlan Ainsley and John Herger, along with hooker Liam Ramshaw, wreaking havoc at scrum time but they were also in the thick of the action at ruck time and made some excellent bustling runs. The backs were also stringing together good fluent passes (as opposed to last week!) and were well led by standoff Hitoshi Chihara.
The Gaijin had a strong bench and brought on Joe Nawaqavanua for Joffa Harris and Tomoya Nakagawa for Tatsuma Mutou at halftime. Big Joe, easily the biggest man on the field is not used to sitting on the bench, and was primed for some try-scoring action. He began his spree not long after halftime. John Herger had made another strong run into enemy territory bumping off a few tacklers along the way. Aftre a few quick ruck recycles Nawaqavanua busted through the defense and dived over. Rarasea failed to convert leaving the score 31 v 0.
More replacements were brought on at this stage with Phillip Ferreira replacing Bryan O'Brien on the left wing, Jo Iwasaki replacing Ikuo Fukuda on the right wing and Apisai Bati coming on for Takashi Tanikawa at No.8.
Bati didn't take long to get into the action and made a nice break down the field. He got tackled three metres out from the try-line but a quick recycle saw Joe Nawaqavanua get his second try. Rarasea couldn't add the extras leaving the score at 36 v 0.
In what was turning into the Fiji show, Mosese Rarasea strolled over for the next try. As he placed the ball down he came in for some extra attention and got up throwing a few punches. His claims to the referee that he was elbowed after scoring fell upon deaf ears and he was yellow-carded for retaliation. Gorka Gerediaga stepped up to take thee conversion but failed with his attempt. Score: 41 v 0 to the Gaijin.
The Gaijin were now down to 14 men, as Tento Mushi had been for a period in the first half, but this didn't seem to restrict their play as the tries kept coming. Next to score was Hitoshi Chihara after good lead-up work by the forwards. Chihara got past his marker, stepped the fullback and raced away to score under the posts. Apisai Bati successfully nailed the conversion and the Gaijin now led 48 v 0.
The Tentou Mushi club were penalised further soon after when one of their locks was sinbinned for a high tackle after his third warning. Both teams now had 14 men for about 4 minutes.
With three halfbacks present today, the Gaijin replaced Tomoya Nakagawa, who had followed the play well in his 20 minutes, with Ryogo Takemura and brought on Aisea Kaloumaira for Mosese Rarsea when his ten minutes in the sinbin was up.
Joe Nawaqavanua got the next try and his third after excellent lead-up work by fellow Fijian Apisai Bati who made another nice break from the back of the scrum. It went unconverted to make thee score 53 v 0.
Final replacements were made with Yamagen replacing Hitoshi Chihara and Iferemi 'Alfie' Baros replacing Junpei Shirakawa. With Mosese Rarsea returning to the game in place of David Chan it was defintely starting to look like a Fiji Show with 5 of the boys on the field and at times it would be Fijian passing to Fijian passing to Fijian in that uncanny way that Fijians play rugby.
Lachlan Ainsley got his well-deserved second soon after with Apisai Bati and John Herger again involved in the lead-up. Once again the conversion was not successful. Score: 58 v 0.
Joe Nawaqavanua finished off a powerful half of rugby with his fourth try when he smashed through a couple of tacklers to dive over. The last tackler had done everything right and was in perfect position but there was no stopping the big Fijian. Mosese Rarasea failed with the conversion from midway sideline and posts. This made the final score 63 v 0.
The Gaijin forwards had won the day but they were backed up well by a well-organized backline that were willing to pass along the line and use the space created by the forwards. The front three for the Gaijin were terrific. They had scrummaged with aplomb and constantly pushed back or twisted the Tento Mushi scrum. The few scrums that Tento Mushi had won were all rushed affairs and didn't help their backline get any front foot ball. They were all also very prominent in open play and willing runners one or two off the ruck. John Herger narrowly pipped Lachlan Ainsley for Man of the Match. The new locking combination of Gorka Gerediaga and Gareth Palmer also did well and Shinchiro Nakayama was full of running as usual.
In the backs Hitoshi Chihara made amends for a poor game last week with a solid effort directing his backs. His passes were crisp and fluent and he was well supported by David Chan and Mosese Rarasea who made some excellent crunching runs upfield always making ground as they went. The back three didn't get many chances to get involved as most of the play centred around the rucks with few chances going wide out.
SCORE: TGRFC 63 (Joe Nawaqavanua 4, Shnichiro Nakayama 2, Lachlan Ainsley 2, Joffa Harris 1, Mosese Rarasea 1, Hitoshi Chaihara 1 tries, M. Rarasea 3/7 , A. Bati 1/1, G. Gerediaga 0/1, Yamagaen 0/1 ) Tentou Mushi 0
Man of the Match: John Herger
Goat of the Match: Mosese Rarasea (for that yellow card)TEAM:
1. Lachlan Ainsley (Australia)
2. Liam Ramshaw (England)
3. John Herger (USA)
4. Gareth Palmer (Wales)
5. Gorka Gerediaga (Basque)
6. Joffa Harris (Australia)
7. Shinichiro Nakayama (c) (Japan)
8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
9. Tatsuma Mutou (Japan)
10. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)
11. Bryan O'Brien (USA)
12. Mosese Rarasea (Fiji)
13. David Chan (vc) (Australia)
14. Ikuo Fukuda (Japan)
15. Junpei Shirakawa (Japan)
Reserves Used: Joe Nawaqavanua (Fiji), Apisai Bati (Fiji), Tomoya Nakagawa (Japan), Ryogo Takemura (Japan), Aisea Kaloumaira (Fiji), Phillip Ferreira (South Africa), Jo Iwasaki (Japan), Alfie (Fiji)