Dateline: October 13th, 2013
A strong Tama Club & Musashino Ruggers combination had too much fire-power for the Tokyo Gaijin RFC in a 'friendly' game played at Yanokuchi Field. It was to be long term player Ikuo Fukuda's last game for the Gaijin as he moves to greener pastures in Osaka. In a game where he would have liked to finish on a good note and be remembered for all the good things he has done for the team he had, unfortunately for him, one of his worst games for the club and got the Goat of the Game award.
As it was a 'friendly' match the Gaijin took the opportunity to start with an experimental front row and had three of their usual tight five starting from the bench. This was despite playing against quality opposition who both play in the Tokyo Cup 1st division.
The kickoff was well taken by Andy Tindall and Hitoshi Chihara went straight through the defense but the opposition fullback made sure he didn't score. The Gaijin set up a quick ruck and Tama/Musashino were penalised inside the first 30 seconds of the game. From the lineout the Gaijin set up a solid maul and Takashi Tanikawa managed to peel off and score. Ikuo Fukuda took the kicking reins for the first time in his rugby career but was astray with a relatively easy kick.
Two things came to mind. Was this referee going to dominate the game and why had the Gaijin scored so quickly against quality opposition.
Tama/Musashino would hit back fairly quickly though. The Gaijin were unusually pushed off their own scrum and Paulo de Berriozabal was penalized for not being bound. A quick tap from Tama/Musashino caught the Gaijin unaware and after a second phase they went over through soft defense. The conversion was unsuccessful leaving the score 5 v 5.
They were in again soon after when a big bomb was dropped by Ikuo Fukuda. The cover defense caught the Tama/Musashino ball carrier on the line but it was too late and they had increased their lead to 10 v 5.
Paulo de Berriozabal made up for his earlier mistake with a try-saving tackle moments later and held up the attacker over the line. The Gaijin managed to work their way out of their 22. There was a good blind side break but the ball went loose. Gorka Gerediaga managed to kick through the loose ball. The last Tama/Musahino defender tossed a silly pass infield to nobody and Shinichiro Nakayama managed to win the race to the ball. Ikuo Fukuda failed with the conversion and the game was back at level pegging 10 v 10.
The Gaijin got back in the lead after some good runs from Nakayama and Takashi Tanikawa got them deep into enemy territory and Phil Ferreira scored to the left of the posts after an overlap. Ikuo Fukuda missed with the conversion again. Score 15 v 10 to the Gaijin.
The next try came when Andy Tindall dropped a pass and two of the Tama/Musashino backs carved through the Gaijin defense and they scored under the posts. This try was converted to make the score 17 v 15 in favour of Tama/Musashino.
Hitoshi Chihara then dropped a ball in a good position and the Gaijin would suffer soon after when a good inside ball from a Tama/Musasshino attacker saw them with only one player to beat. It was ikuo Fukuda, who proved to be nothing more than a speed hump. The conversion brought them up to 24 v 15 in front.
As the half wound down Ikuo wasn't finished with the mistakes. He dropped a sitter (easy catch) on an overlap which should have led to a try and then dropped a cross-field kick on the bounce which should have been an easy try as no-one was in front of him and all he had to do was take it and fall over the line.
The second half for the Gaijin started terribly when Mosese Rarasea's kickoff went backwards. It was a sign of things to come as the mistakes just kept rolling out. The Tama/Musashino combination went close to scoring but good scrambling defense kept them out. Then Jo Iwasaki and Takashi Tanikawa made some good runs and the Gaijin earned a penalty just inside their opposition's 22. A quick tap from Eamonn Murphy to Joffa Harris and then a nice inside ball to Takashi Tanikawa saw Tanikawa make a strong charge at the line. He was tackled by two players as he headed for the posts but managed to squeeze the baall down right next to them. Unfortunately one of the defenders smashed his arm into the posts and had to leave the field with an obvious broken forearm (scapula?). Ikuo Fukuda amazingly missed the conversion from pretty much in front to continue his woeful game. Score 24 v 20 to Tama/Musashino.
Tama/Musashino would then kick away with three converted tries. One came from a further Ikuo Fukuda mistake, another from an unlucky charge-down where the bounce didn't go the Gaijin's way, and the other from a penalty and then another Gaijin mistake. They score had now shot out to a 45 v 20 Tama/Musashino lead.
A good break from Tatsuma Muto almost had the Gaijin back in the game but he was tackled just short of the tryline. He popped up a low pass to Joffa Harris coming behind him in support but Harris couldn't hold onto the ball as he crossed the line and the try went begging. The Gaijin stayed on the attack though and a penalty from inside the Tama/Musashino 22 had them charging at the defense. Mosese Rarasea, in a typical explosive run, charged at the line at the line and was too strong for the defense to crash over.
The Tama/Musashino combination would the put the icing on the cake for their big win with two easy tries to finish the game. The first came from a turnover 30 metres out and resulted in a try under the posts, which was converted, and the second came just 5 phases after the kickoff. The final score was 57 v 25 to Tama/Musashino.
The final score was a blow-out in the end with the three tries in succession from the 10 minute mark of the second half proving costly for the Gaijin. Handling was atrocious at times with the usually reliable Hitoshi Chihara dropping 4 or 5 balls. Ikuo Fukuda had a last game that he would rather forget. The team really didn't want to give him 'the goat' award in his last game but there was really no choice in the matter. We hope he can make an odd appearance whenever he is up Tokyo way so that he can make amends.
SCORE: Tama Club/Musahino Ruggers 57 (9 tries, 6/9 conversionss) TGRFC 25 (Takashi Tanikawa 2, Shinichiro Nakayama 1, Phillip Ferreira 1, Mosese Rarasea 1 tries, Ikuo Fukuda 0/5 conversions)
Man of the Match:
Goat of the Match: Ikuo Fukuda
1. Takeo Honda (Japan)
2. Liam Ramshaw (England)
3. Andy Tindall (England)
4. Gorka Gerediaga (Basque)
5. Jesse Takahashi (USA)
6. Paulo de Berriozabal (Basque)
7. Shinichiro Nakayama (vc) (Japan)
8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
9. Eamonn Murphy (Ireland)
10. Sota Kaneko (Japan)
11. Ikuo Fukuda (Japan)
12. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)
13. Phillip Farreira (South Africa)
14. Wataru Murata (Japan)
15. Toshi Miyano (Japan)
Reserves used: Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan), Lachie Ainley (Australia), Richard O'Shea (Wales), Aurelien Antolinez (France), Joffa Harris (Australia), Blake Walker (NZ), Mosese Rarasea (Fiji), Tomofumi Nohara (Japan), Jo Iwasaki (Japan)