Dateline : 2nd December, 2012

The Tokyo Gaijin RFC were honoured to finish their 2012 season with a game against a mixed team of  the best of the Shuto Legaue. The game was held to sort out the possibles and probables for the Shuto League representative team to play against the Tama Representative team for the 2012 New Zealand Ambassadors Cup; So the Gaijin were basically up against the best players of the 14 teams that make up the two divisions of the Shuo League (We'll call them the Shuto League for convenience in this article). Though there were no competition points like in the recently completed Shuto League, the Gaijin were keen for victory to show that they can even beat a 'Best of the Best' team, and also to push for their own selections in the rep team. The game was to be played in three 20 minute periods.

The Gaijin got off to a cracking start with an early try within the first minute. From the opening whistle the kickoff was sent downfield and returned with express pace by Sam deroeck. Deroeck dummied through a hole then threw an insid eball to Mosese Rarasea who then found himself in space. As the cover defense came across Rarasea threw a dummy pass inside to throw off the chaser and ran 20 metres to the line to score. He failed to convert his own try but the early lead of 5 v 0 was heartening for the Gaijin.

From the kickoff Gareth Palmer showed his hurdling skills when he leapt over the first tackler. The ball was thrown wide but then came the Gaijin's first mistake when Touch Roy knocked the ball on. The Gaijin managed to win the scrum against the feed with a superior push and No.8 Nik Pavesic made a nice run down the blind side but his flick pass to Ikuo Fukuda was dropped. That was two mistakes in less than a minute so the Gaijin would have to cut out the simple errors if they wanted to beat this quality opposition.

The Shuto League's Best then made their way upfield to the Gaijin 22 metre line where the Gaijin earned the ire of the referee in front of the posts and were penalised at ruck time. The Shuto League's Best then went for a scrum which was surprising considering the dominance of the Gaijin scrum thus far. A quick hook got them out of jail despite their scrum starting to rumble backwards and quick hands saw them going for the corner. Mosese Rarasea smashed the attacker into touch two metres out form the try-line in what can only be called a great tackle but was subsequently penalised by the referee he saw it differently and said it was aa high tackle.

The Gaijin were surviving on their own line by some great defense and thought that they were out of trouble when Toshi Miyano kicked the ball for touch from a Gaijin scrum win. The ball failed to find touch though and was taken by the Shuto League winger 30 cm from the touchline. The winger replied with a booming bomb and chased hard. Sam Dereock unexplicably let the ball bounce in-goal probably thinking the attacking players wouldn't get to it in time and  it would roll on safely over the dead-ball line. The ball however, took a wicked bounce and went up and slightly backward, and a Shuto League player jumped up, caught it and fell down to score an easy try. It was converted and they now had taken the lead at 7 v 5.

Dereock soon made up for his indiscretion when he took a kick deep in his own territory and split the defense. He passed the ball onto Mosese Rarasea who then flicked it onto Lachlan Ainsley. Ainsley then drew the winger and put Touch Roy away in the left corner. Rarasea failed to convert again but the Gaijin had regained the lead at 10 v 7.

The Gaijin then powered upfield again in another promising move right from the restart. Tatsuma Mutou took the restart and quick hands saw it pass from him to Shinichiro Nakayama then to Ainsley. Ainsley made good yards upfield then passed to John Herger who continued the move deep into Shuto League territory. Unfortunately it all came to nothing when Mosese Rarasea dropped the ball.

The Gaijin got on the scoreboard one more time before the end of the first period when Sam Dereock made another of his trademark express runs as he swerved his way through the opposition, pushing off a couple of feeble tackles with his fend and running 50 metres to score. Rarasea, having a shocker with the boot, missed again.

So with a 15 v 7 lead at halftime, the Gaijin would have been very happy with their performances thus far and would need more of the same as the Shuto League made a raft of changes and would begin the second period with fresh faces. The Gaijin also brought on all their reserves, though all the players would return to the field in the third period as they tried to give everyone equal game time.

The Gaijin started the second period well with nice drives from Lachlan Ainsley and Shinichiro Nakayama and some brilliant ruck work but a turnover and a poor attempt at an interception led to a Shuto League try. They failed to convert so the Gaijin still clung to a narrow 15 v 12 lead.

The Gaijin replied with their own try soon after. Tsukasa Takasugi crashed the ball up from a penalty tap. Richard O'Shea continued the move with some handy yards and then the ball was thrown to the backs. Prop Takeshi Koba, out in the centres charged forward with the ball forward and drove through the tackle. He managed to stay on his feet and his team mates got in behind him and drove him over the line for the try. Rarasea finally converted one and the Gaijin had a bit of breathing space with a 22 v 12 lead.

This lead was expanded when Nik Pavesic went down the blind, fended off two would-be tacklers, twinkle-toed down the side line and ran around closer to the posts, knowing Rarasea was not having a good day with the boot. He was tackled in goal but managed to put the ball down to give Rarasea an easier shot at goal, which he made no mistake with. Now the Gaijin had a handy lead at 29 v 12.

The Shuto League Best responded immediately when a big hole opened up in the Gaijin defensive line. Sam Dereock almost managed to stop the attacker but the centre swiveled in the tackle broke free, bumped off a few defenders and scored out wide despite the tackles of Dereock (again) and Bryan O'Brien. The Shuto kicker failed to convert leaving the score at 29 v 17 to the Gaijin.

The Shuto League team almost scored again just before the end of the second period but a great tackle from Sam Deroeck took the winger into touch just metres short of the try line.

The Tokyo Gaijin  boys took a 29 v 17 lead into the third and final period and would face a few more fresh faces, including team mates Hitoshi Chihara and Toshi Miyano, who were borrowed by the Shuto League team as they searched for best combinations. No problem.....Mosese Rarasea would step into standoff to fill the void.

The Gaijin increased their lead when Lachlan Ainsley went blind from a ruck and passed to Sam Dereock, who passed to Nic Pavesic. Dereock wrapped around to receive the ball back from Pavesic and beat the defense to the corner to score. Rarasea failed to add the two points with the wide conversion attempt, but the lead was now a very handy 34 v 17.

Soon after the Gaijin scrum was wheeled, showing a weakness for the firrst time in the match, and giving the Shuto team the scrum fed at the reset. The big boys of the Gaijin pack responded well when they pushed their opposition back and off the ball for a moral victory.

It was obvious the Shuto League team would need to score next if they wanted the victory and they responded well. Dereock, as the last line of defense, made a good tackle on an opponent as he had broken through the last line of defense. The big hit jolted the ball free as the player hit the ground. The referee failed to spot the knock-on though, and the ball was quickly recycled. Dereock was straight back to his feet and attempted to cover a break down the wing but an inside pass as he went for the tackle beat him and the inside man raced away to score under the posts. Unbelievably, they fluffed the conversion leaving the score at 34 v 22.

Tatsuma Mutou almost increased the Gaijin lead soon after when he went blind-side from a scrum and caught the defense napping. He ran 25 metres but was caught just short in a desperate tackle and his own support was nowhere to be seen. The Shuto League team also went close to scoring after a rolling maul from a line-out looked to be going over the try line but good defense form the Gaijin stopped the movement. Quick ball out to towards their winger saw him in open space but he dropped the ball and the try went begging.

The Shuto League team did keep the pressure on however and another rolling maul from a line-out saw them make good yards. As the Gaijin defenders were sucked into the maul an opposition forward broke out of the melee and scored. They failed to add the two points but they were back in the hunt at 34 v 27. Game on!

The Shuto League team then ensured a nail-biting finish when they were next to score. They kicked from halfway. A shocking bounce beat the covering Sam Dereock and Bryan O'Brien and the Shuto League winger got a lovely bounce and raced away to score. Once again they failed to convert to leave the scores 34 v 32 and set up a pulsating finish to the game.

The Gaijin would have the last say of the game though when little halfback Tatsuma Mutou took a quick tap from about ten metres out from the Shuto try line and ran through the middle of the back-pedaling Shuto forward pack  to touch down. Yamagen stepped up to take the conversion but had no better luck than Rarasea making the final score 39 v 32.

Well played by the Gaijin against quality opposition and a big squad. Hopefully the Gaijin will get plenty in the Shuto representative team.

SCORE: TGRFC 39 (Sam Deroeck 3, Touch Roy 1, Takeshi Koba 1, Nik Pavesic 1, Tatsuma Mutou 1 tries, M. Rarasea 2/6, Yamagen 0/1 goals) Shuto League's Best 32 (6 tries, 1/7 goals)

Man of the Match: Sam Deroeck

TEAM:

1. John Herger (USA)

2. Gaz Dalrymple (Scotland)

3. Tsukasa Takasugi (Japan)

4. Jesse Takahashi (USA)

5. Lachlan Ainsley (Australia)

6. Gareth Palmer (Wales)

7. Shinichiro Nakayama (c) (Japan)

8. Nik Pavesic (Croatia)

9. Tatsuma Mutou (Japan)

10. Toshi Miyano (Japan)

11. Bryan O'Brien (USA)

12. Mosese Rarsea (Fiji)

13.Touch Roy (Australia)

14. Ikuo Fukuda (Japan)

15. Sam deroeck (England)

Reserves Used: Takeshi Koba (Japan), Richard O'Shea (Wales), Gorka Gerediaga (Basque), Hitoshi Chihara (Japan) Touch Roy (Australia), Alfie Baros (Fiji), Yamagen (Japan)