10th March, 2013

There were worries before the start of the match against Mandara that, much like there was against the disaster that was the Watermelon men game, there would be a lack of backs in the team. Fortunately that was not the case and it was hoped that the troubles that plagued Tokyo Gaijin in that game (and there were too many to mention) would not make an appearance against Mandara.

The day’s weather may have started off full of sunshine and promises but, it readily became apparent that this was a cruel lie. A large cloud of viscous yellow dust and strong winds assailed the pitch at the kick-off and for much of the first half.

It was because of these winds that the kick-off by Mandara did not go the required 10 metres. A Gaijin scrum on the halfway line produced the first play of the game when Takashi Tanikawa broke of the back of the scrum. The move failed to produce anything as the ball was knocked on by Masamichi Itagaki.

 

Masa was not alone in the handling errors. As both sides struggled in the dust and strong winds, knock-ons, loose balls and poor passing became a common sight. It was evident that until the winds abated this game would be primarily a forwards one.

Good Gaijin support and a series of phases edged Gaijin into the Mandara 22. A long pass out to the backs that seemed to be unaffected by the wind found Masa, who, succeeded in drawing on the last man allowing Junpei Shirakawa to dive into the corner for a Gaijin try. The try was unconverted by Shirakawa but the Gaijin had an early 5 v 0 lead..

Mandara, undeterred, struck back and after a period of powerful rucking and mauling managed to bowl off the Gaijin line for a try. Strong protests from the Gaijins that the try had been held up were ignored by the referee. It would be the first of many questionable decisions made during the match. The try was converted making the score 5-7 to Mandara.

Drama interrupted the game when Touch Roy was sent off for punching an opposition player in retaliation. A quick Mandara penalty and line out saw them score after powerful maul and a long period of solid Gaijin defence. The try was unconverted. Score : 5-17 Mandara.

The Gaijin fought back and after pushing their way back up the pitch won a scrum no more than 30 metres from the Mandara try-line. A steady scrum followed by some quick passes and deft hands, a rarity from the Gaijin backline, led to Takeshi Kawai drawing the last defender before popping the ball out to Keiichiro Endo for a try in the corner. Try unconverted. Score : 10-12 Mandara.

The pendulum swung back in Mandara’s favour, as moments later Mandara put their powerful maul into effect once more following a scrum to score. Try converted. Score : 10-19 Mandara.

HALF-TIME

The wind and dust having now died down, much to the relief of all concerned, seemed to have little effect on the referee’s vision. As right from the off a series of strange decisions and penalties as well as soft tackling by the Gaijin defence allowed the opposition No.6 to waltz through the defensive line (after an admittedly directionally challenged pass) to score. Try unconverted. Score : 10-24 Mandara.

Mandara’s fitness and the Gaijin’s lack thereof started to show as sloppy defence and poor handling allowed Mandara to dominate the second half. It was this lack of fitness that led to Mandara’s next try as Mandara ran rings around the Gaijin to score in the corner. Try converted 10-31 Mandara.

After that the floodgates truly opened. Mandara having obviously decided that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and scored two almost identical tries in quick sucession. Two powerful mauls that the Gaijin were seemingly powerless to stop led to two converted tries. 45-10 Mandara.

Before the final whistle Mandara had one more trick to perform. Creating an overlap on the right hand side of the pitch quick hands let Mandara score in the corner for the final play of the day. Try unconverted 50-10 Mandara.

Whilst the performance of the Gaijin was much better than in previous weeks it underlined the lack of fitness in the Gaijin team that became so apparent in the second half.

SCORE:  Mandara 50 ( 8 tries, 5/8 conversions) Tokyo Gaijin 10 ( Junpei Shirakawa 1,  Keiichiro Endo 1 tries, Shirakawa 0/2 conversions)

Man of the Match: Lachlan Ainley

Team:

1.     John Herger (USA)

2.     Gaz Darymple (Scotland)

3.     Lachlan Ainley (Australia)

4.     Richard O’Shea [Captain] (Wales)

5.     Gareth Palmer (Wales)

6.     Nik Pavesic (Croatia)

7.     Shinichiro Nakayama (Japan)

8.     Takahashi Tanikawa (Japan)

9.     Alaister Nimmo (England)

10.  Toshi Miyano (Japan)

11.  Junpei Shirakawa(Japan)

12.  Touch Roy (Australia)

13.  Hitoshi Chihara(Japan)

14.  Keiichiro Endo (Japan)

15.  Masamichi Itagaki (Japan)

Subs

16.  Andy Tindall (England)

17.  John Simpson (USA)

18.  Mosese Rarasea (Fiji)

19.  Phillip Ferreira (South Africa)

20.  Takeshi Kawai (Japan)

21.  Gorka Gerediaga (Basque)

22.  Sota Kaneko (Japan) (Unused)

23.  Takeshi Koba (Japan)

24.  Yousuke Kikuma (Japan)

25.  Ikuo Fukuda (Japan)