Dateline: October 6, 2013
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC played Kurumi RFC at Edogawa in a game organized to give the guys outside the regular match-day 22 more game time. With only 18 players on deck there was a lack of depth but ample opportunity for some of the guys to show their skills and push for more game time in the future. Tom Burke, despite joining the club back before summer, was having his first game with the club and regular flanker Daniel Worden was having his first game at lock due to a lack of numbers in the position.
A terrrible start with Sota Kaneko kicking out on the full was not what was needed. Kurumi had a scrum just inside the Gaijin 22 metre area. They put on a good rolling maul from the lineout. The referee called 'use it once' but they didn't need a 'twice' as they rolled it to the blind side and there was no defense there. Score: 5 v 0 to Kurumi within 3 minutes.
Another penalty soon after againsst the Gaijin for not coming through the gate and Kurumi once again mauled the ball over the line. Score: 10 v 0 to Kurumi.
Kurumi then put the restart out on the full and the Gaijin finally got some good possession and territory. Apisai Bati came off the back of a scrum inside the Kurumi 22 metre area and went blind. He beat two tacklers and went over to score in a move that looked all too easy for the experienced Fijian loose forward. After the failed conversion the Gaijin were back in the game at 10 v 5 down.
The next period of good play was started when Gaijin fullback Yamagen took a high bomb well but was tackled high. From the lineout which followed the penalty the Gaijin put on a strong rolling maul. Eamonn Murphy peeled off the maul and made a good run. He managed to flick it to Takaharu Arumaki who made further ground upfield. The Gaijin were then awarded a penalty for a Kurumi ruck infringement. Another strong rolling maul from the lineout saw Arumaki with a strong run, one off the ruck, and through a couple of tacklers to score. The Gaijin were now at level-pegging 10 v 10.
It was then the Gaijins' turn to put the kickoff out on the full. Kurumi worked their way forward from the scrum on halfway and kicked for the corner. The lineout to the Gaijin just inside their 22 was a shambles. It seemed like there was a miscommunication between thrower Gorka Gerediaga to jumper Dan Worden as Worden didn't go up. The ball was kicked ahead by a Kurumi forward . Fullback Yamagen couldn't pick it up on the run and managed to just kick it into touch. From the lineout Kurumi mauled the ball over the line again. Score 15 v 10 to Kurumi.
Yamagen saved a further blowout to the score before halftime with a try-saving tackle on a runaway Kurumi back.
At halftime there was talk in the Gaijin camp about minimizing the silly penalties and errors and valueing possession. The Gaijin had looked the better team for large parts of the first half but found it hard to contain the Kurumi rolling maul, which is where all their 3 tries had come from. The Gaijin needed to play outside their 22 to keep this maul at bay as it was proving unstoppable from lineouts inside the Gaijin 22.
The second half didn't start too well though with a further mistake leading directly to a try. Halfback Eamonn Murphy passed a ball to no-one and one of the Kurumi players kicked the ball through and fell on it to score. They finally converted one to now make the score 22 v 10.
The turning point in the game came when Gorka Gerediaga, who received the ball flat and behind most of his team-mates, put through a little chip-kick inside the Kurumi 22. The chip was not chased as all his team mates were in an offside position. It was easily fielded by one of the Kurumi backs and they swung it wide. There were a few missed tackles on some of the Kurumi quick guys and they raced away to score under the posts. With the successful conversion they were now leading 29 v 10. The Gaijin needed to be more patient and the kick was just throwing away possession. They went from being deep in attack inside the Kurumi 22 to standing behind their tryline. The missed tackles didn't help. Heads went down as the Gaijin players started to realise that the play had probably cost them any chance of getting back into the game. Gorka was given Goat of the Game for his moment of stupidity.
Another couple of mistakes soon after also cost the Gaijin dearly. The first was on the Kurumi 22 when Wataru Sato misread a Kurumi kick from deep inside their 22. It dropped in front of him when he seemingly had it covered and he propelled it forward. It was then hacked through by a Kurumi player. Repalcement Mosese Rarasea, having his first run at fullback, got to it and charged forward but knocked the ball on in the tackle. Kurumi appreciated the gift as they threw the ball wide and scored under the posts. With the successful conversion the score had ballooned out to 36 v 10.
The Gaijin scored the last try when replacement forward Joffa Harris bumped off two forward defenders on the edge of the ruck, rounded another with a fend and raced 15 metres to score. Yamagen failed with the conversion and the whistle was blown to make the final score 36 v 15.
While the score would indicate an easy victory for Kurumi the territory and possesion stakes actually favored the Gaijin. It was just their lack of patience (read : brain explosions) at key moments and silly errors that let them down. Defense out wide also needs some work.
The forwards actually dominated the set piece and the rucks but had an inability to deal with the surging Kurumi maul close to their own tryline. The backs were solid but missed some important tackles. Eamonn Murphy was the pick of them and constantly hassled his opposite halfback causing him to lose the ball at a handful of scrums. He also gave good service at the base of the ruck for his forwards to charge onto and made some excellent probing runs to take the Man of the Match award.
That is one win apiece for the two sides as the Gaijin had beaten them in a 'friendly' back in January.
SCORE: Kurumi RFC 36 (6 tries, 3/6 conversions) TGRFC 15 (Apisai Bati 1, Takaharu Arumaki 1, Joffa Harris 1 tries; Yamagen 0/3 converssions)
Man of the Match: Eamonn Murphy
Goat of Match: Gorka Gerediaga. Also Tsunaki 'Don' Tananka (for turning up after the game had finished)
1. Takaharu 'Jyake' Arumaki (Japan)
2. Gorka Gerediaga (Basque)
3. Andy Tindall (England)
4. Aurelien Anatolinez (France)
5. Daniel Worden (NZ)
6. Ryo Takahashi (USA)
7. Apisai Bati (Fiji)
8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
9. Eamonn Murphy (Ireland)
10. Sota Kaneko (Japan)
11. Wataru Sato (Japan)
12. Hitoshi Chihara (c) (Japan)
13. Jo Iwasaki (Japan)
14. Tom Burke (Ireland)
15. Akira Yamagen (Japan)
Reserves used: Joffa Harris (Australia); Andrei Croiter (England), Mosese Rarasea (Fiji)