Dateline: April 14th, 2013
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC were overwhelmed by a strong Koryo RFC to the tune of 44 v 0 in the first round of the Tokyo Cup for 2013. It was the strong Koryo pack that laid the platform for victory, consistently maintaining possession and building momentum through secure phase work and dominant field position. With a strong wind at their backs they went into halftime up 25 v 0. The Tokyo Gaijin RFC were still in the game with the wind worth at least 20 points but the Gaijin had a poor second half and Koryo ran away with the game.
The Gaijin managed to hold the Koryo attack out for 12 minutes before weight of possession and territorial dominance saw one of their forwards crash over with a drive from a ruck. The Gaijin defense had been good up until this stage but a series of penalties and lack of ball security was their enemy. Score: 7 v 0.
In the 21st minute Koryo increased their lead after further penalties saw them hammering away at the line again and then quick hands in the back line allowed them to score out wide. The Gaijin were guilty of not going around the legs. Score: 12 v 0
It was not until the 22nd minute of the game that the Gaijin entered the Koryo side of half way but they were consistently pushed back into their own half through Koryo's persistent use of the high ball which was causing havoc in the strong wind.
In the 26th minute, Gaijin standoff Toshi Miyano, perhaps the smallest man on the field, was ludicrously penalized for a high tackle and Koryo stepped up and nailed the penalty. Score: 15 v 0.
Not long after this Tatsuma Mutou, perhaps the Gaijin's best low tackler was knocked out doing just that. He was assisted from the field in a very groggy state. A minute later and the Koryo team was over the line again under the posts. Score 22 v 0.
Macer Van Allen, who had come on for Mutou in a backline reshuffle, knocked the ball on with his first touch of the game at inside centre but recovered to make some big hits in defense.
The Koryo boys would finish the half with another successful penalty shot at goal to make the half time score 25 v 0.
Despite being behind 25 points the Gaijin players and management felt that they were still well and truly in the game as they would be playing with a strong breeze at their backs in the second half. They would not have the services of workhorse prop Lachlan Ainley for the second half though as he succumbed to a knee injury. Gorka Gerediaga would take his place in the front row for the second half.
The Gaijin got off to a good positive start and were attacking the Koryo line but a lucky bounce off a low kick got the Koryo team down into the Gaijin 22 metre area. Koryo then went on the attack and the game started getting a bit testy. The referee, a control freak, had yet another talk to the captains to try to simmer down some anger that was rising to the surface. The ref finally lost patience with the Gaijin giving away penalties at the rucks and mauls and awarded Koryo a penalty try 12 minutes into the second half. Score: 32 v 0.
The Koryo team would score three more tries as the Gaijin defense unravelled. The first came from a kick through on the 22 metre line and the chasing winger got a beautiful bounce to score. Simple numbers out wide and drawing and passing gave them another try out wide and a break away from a scrum gave them the softest try of the game, making the final result 47 v 0.
The Koryo team are a very well drilled team and hit their rucks and mauls with venom. They will certainly be pushing for a spot in the finals, as they did last year. The Gaijin almost matched them in the first half and made their share of steals at the ruck and but were hampered by the strong wind. They defended well for large patches of the first half but Koryo's weight of possession and territory wore them down. In the second half the Gaijin just fell away. They seemed to lack leadership in the backs and made poor decisions. One must wonder why they failed to put up a single bomb after Koryo had used them to good effect in the first half. Though the wind shifted slightly the Gaijin still had a good advantage in the second half but failed to make the distance on their kicks that the Koryo had done in the first half.
Macer Van Allen unleashed some big hits and made one of the longest breaks in the game on his debut for the Gaijin. There were also promising debuts for hooker Tomohiro Setoguchi and reserve half Sota Kaneko. The backline, weakened by absences, failed to fire and fullback Masamichi Itagaki had an unhappy game with quite a few dropped balls. Phillip Ferreira, stood out in his first appearannce at inside centre with some crunching tackles and solid crashes with the ball in hand earning him the Man of the Match award.
It's back to the drawing board for the Round 2 match in two weeks.
SCORE: Koryo 47 (7 tries, 3/7 conversions, 2/2 penalties) Tokyo Gaijin RFC 0
Man of the Match: Phillip Ferreira
Goat of the Match: Lachlan Ainley & Nik Pavesic (for running into each other and almost knocking each other out)
1. Lachlan Ainley (Australia)
2. Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan)
3. Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan)
4. Nik Pavesic (Croatia)
5. Jesse Takahashi (Japan)
6. Motoki Mitsuyuri (Japan)
7. Shinichiro Nakayama (c) (Japan)
8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
9. Tomoya Nakagawa (Japan)
10. Toshi Miyano (Japan)
11. Bryan O'Brien (USA)
12. Phillip Ferreira (South Africa)
13. Takeshi Kawai (Japan)
14. Tatsuma Mutou (Japan)
15. Masamichi Itagaki (Japan)
16. Gaz Dalrymple (Scotland) (unused reserve)
17. Gorka Gerediaga (Basque)
18. Andy Tindall (England) (unused reserve)
19. Takeshi Ochiai (Japan)
20. Sota Kaneko (Japan)
21. Macer Van Allen (USA)
22. Ikuo Fukuda (Japan)