Dateline: September 22, 2013
The Shuto League has three teams which started out as teams made up of predominatly foreigners: the Tokyo Gaijin RFC & the Tokyo Crusaders in first division and All France in the second division. Today, the Gaijin were playing the Tokyo Crusaders for Top Dog amonst the foreign teams in the league. The scene for the second round Shuto League battle was to be Yanokuchi Field.
The Crusaders didn't start as well as they would have liked with the kickoff going out on the full and the Gaijin getting a scrum on halfway. This gave them an early opportunity to show the Crusaders that they would pay for fundamental errors. Unfortunately it didn't work quite like that as Mosese Rarasea failed to find touch with the first penalty of the game.
The Gaijin did keep the pressure on and a clever little kick through by Phillip Ferreira was regained by the Gaijin to put them just outside the Crusaders 22 and on the attack. Good hands down the blind side resulted in the first try of the game with good interpassing between Eamonn Murphy and Alaister Nimmo. Nimmo got a good ball back inside and Daniel Worden, running a good line in support, had a free run to the line to score 10 metres to the right of the posts. Mosese Rarasea converted and the Gaijin had the first lead of the game at 7 v 0.
The Crusaders went close to scoring next when one of their players getting back onside came into the back of the Gaijin ruck from an offside position and picked up the ball and ran off with it, and inexplicably was allowed to by the referee. He was tackled 5 metres out from the Gaijin tryline. Soon after, tall Welsh lock and team captain Richard O'Shea stole the ball from a Crusaders line-out and momentarily relieved the pressure.
But another penalty soon after had the Crusaders charging at the Gaijin line again. Good defense from Mosese Rarasea and Hitoshi Chihara put immense pressure on the Crusaders backs and forced a loose ball. O'Shea kicked it ahead down-field and the chase was on. The Crusaders scrambled well and managed to kick the ball into touch on their own 22 metre line.
Another penalty soon after saw half Eamonn Murphy take a quick tap and give it to his forwards to rumble it up. After quick ruck ball Murphy ran at the defense, dummied to his winger, and went over to score. Rarasea converted to make the score 14 v 0.
The Crusaders then regained their kickoff but failed to capitalize and were soon under immense pressure and were forced into a 5 metre scrum just outside their tryline. The Gaijin scrum shunted them backwards and the Crusaders halfback barely managed to get the ball to his fullback standing in the in-goal area, who then put in a terrible kick that went straight up in the air. Gaijin lock Lachlan Ainley dropped it when all he had to do was take it and fall over to score. The Gaijin kept the pressure on and Eamonn Murphy threw another dummy to fool the defense and go over the tryline in the tackle. Rarasea couldn't add the extras so the score was now 19 v 0 to the TGRFC.
The Crusaders got an important try just before halftime to keep themselves in the game. From a lineout just inside the Gaijin 22 metre area they swung the ball wide and a simple wrap-around created an extra man and they scored and then converted to make the halftime score 19 v 7.
The Gaijin started the second half with a few mistakes with Phillip Ferreira kicking a shocker to touch from a penalty. It was low and straight at the Crusaders players. Hitoshi Chihara then dropped an easy ball out in the backs and then Ferreira was involved in a bit of push and shove with one of his opponents.
The half got worse as the Gaijin players rushed too many plays when a patient buildup would have been the order of the day. The Crusaders failed to capitalize though and made a lot of mistakes themselves. The Gaijin could have scored with extra numbers out wide at one stage but David Chan dropped the ball with a big overlap on his outside. The kicking also deteriorated.
The only points of the second half came form a Gaijin penalty kick which was converted by Mosese Rarasea, making the final score 22 v 7.
After a good first half of rugby the second half was pitiful and marred with errors from both sides. The defense was solid from both sides and may have contributed to some of the poor handling.
Once again the Tokyo Gaijin RFC showed that they were the top foreign team in Tokyo!!
Straight after this game the Gaijin played a second game against Zenkai Beers, perhaps the second best team in the Chiba League. The match was organized to get more game time to those outside the regular match day 22, but some replacements had to come from the first game team. Blake walker was having his first start in a long time and Timmy Jacobsson got on in the second half for his first game of rugby ever. There was also a Gaijin debut for Welshman William Powell.
The game was not a 'pretty' game to watch as the Gaijin outside backs forgot how to tackle with all the Zenkai Beers tries coming through their backs. The Gaijin back three were also guilty of letting the ball bounce from kicks and each time the bounce favored the Zenkai Beers chasers and they romped away to score at least two of their tries this way. Scores were not kept for this game but they scored 6 or 7 tries while the only Gaijin try went to Dave Kelver, having his first game for about 6 months.
The game was marred by two long stoppages for injuries with Gaijin halfback Tomoya Nakayama breaking his collarbone. A Zenkai Beers forward was also knocked unconscious from a kickoff with Joffa Harris charging into him. There was a head-clash and the Beers forward, who was wearing head gear, came off second best, with blood seemingly coming from the back of his head where he hit the ground. An ambulance was called to take him away and due to the long stoppage halftime was called early.
Nobody in the 'B' game stepped up to lay claim to a starting position in the 'A' squad. The forwards grade was passable but the backs were very ordinary. If one tried really hard they could come up with the excuse that the combinations were new and untried.
SCORE : TGRFC 22 ( Eamonn Murphy 2, Dan Worden 1 tries, M. Rarasea 1/1 penalties, 2/3 conversions) Tokyo Crusaders 7 (1 try, 1/1 Conversions)
Man of the Match: Lachlan Ainley
TEAM v Crusaders
1. Lachlan Ainley (Australia)
2. Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan)
3. Gorka Gerediaga (Basque)
4. Richard O'Shea (c) (Wales)
5. Jesse Takahashi (USA)
6. Dan Worden (NZ)
7. Shinichiro Nakayama (vc) (Japan)
8. Paulo de Berriozabal (Basque)
9. Eamonn Murphy (Ireland)
10. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)
11. Alaister Nimmo (England)
12. David Chan (Australia)
13. Phillip Ferreira (South Africa)
14. Tatsuma Muto (Japan)
15. Keiichiro Endo (Japan)
Reserves used: Liam Ramshaw (England), Andy Tindall (England), Mosese Rarasea (Fiji), Ryo Takahashi (USA)
SCORE in 2nd Game: A lot to a little in favour of Zenkai Beers.
TEAM v Zenkai Beers
1. Takeo Kondo (Japan)
2. Liam Ramshaw (England)
3. Gorka Gerediaga (Basque)
4. Andy Tindall (England)
5. Aurelien Anolinez (France)
6. Andrei Croiter (England)
7. Dave Kelver (USA)
8. Joffa Harris (Australia)
9. Tomoya Nakagawa (Japan)
10. Blake walker (NZ)
11. Tomofumi Nohara (Japan)
12. Rui Kinoshita (Japan)
13. Jo Iwasaki (Japan)
14. Masashi (Japan)
15. Yamagen (Japan)
Reserves used : Lachlan Ainley (Australia), Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan), Richard O'Shea (Wales), Paulo de Berriozabal (Basque), Ryo Takahashi (USA), Ryogo Takemura (Japan), William Powell (Wales), Timmy Jacobsson (USA)