Dateline: April 20th, 2014
The Tokyo Gaijin kicked off the first round of the Tokyo Cup for 2014 against Waseda RFC. The Gaijin were taking the field without their captain Lachlan Ainley (dislocated shoulder - 2 months) and vice captain Toshi Miyano (neck injury - indefinte) after two unfortunate incidents at training the week before. With two of their best players out , there were big holes to fill in the side but the team was still looking forward to putting on a good display and getting first round honours.
Waseda were first to score when they crashed over from a rolling maul from a lineout in the 7th minute. They failed to convert but had a good early lead of 5 v 0 and had shown greater urgency to hit rucks and keep the ball.
In the 12th minute the TGRFC signalled 'game on' when some good forward crashes in the mid field led to Apisai Bati charging over for a try under the posts. Mosese Rarasea converted the try to put the Gaijin out in front 7 v 5.
Waseda came roaring back in the 16th minute with a try out on the right flank to retake the lead at 12 v 7. The conversion was again unsuccessful.
They extended their lead in the 26th minute with another try out on the right, through the porous Gaijin backline, but failed to convert again to now lead 17 v 7.
Not long after this Mosese Rarasea left the field as a lack of fitness got the better of him, and Takashi Tanikawa joined the game at No.8.
In the 36th minute Sovita Tui was yellow carded for a high tackle and a minute later the extra man helped the Waseda team to another try. This time the try was converted and they went into the halftime break with a healthy 24 v 7 lead.
The Gaijin scrum was very strong, completely demolishing the Waseda scrum a few times but the Waseda team were winning the break down contest. They were hitting rucks with more urgency and a greater fury and forcing a few turnovers and exposing a soft Gaijin underbelly. The Gaijin lineout, with new boy Paul Bertier being used as the main jumper, was also not firing well, with many balls going to ground or being lost in the ensuing maul.
The Gaijin backline was totally outplayed and their defense really struggled to rein in their counterparts. Too often they were exposed out wide as the defense failed to come up together and Waseda found oodles of space to make constant breaks. In contrast the Waseda backline defense was composed and like a brick wall and they completely shut out the big Fijian centre combination of Arthur Levula and Sovita Tui, forcing dropped balls and more erratic play.
The halftime chat didn't seem to help the Gaijin as they found themselves standing under their posts again in the 46th minute with their backline defense exposed again, this time on the left side. The conversion failed but the Waseda team had skipped out to a seemingly unbeatable 29 v 7 lead.
Sovita Tui was back on the field immediately after the conversion and the gaijin were back to 15 men.
Some consistent mauling and increased urgency saw quick ball given out to the backs and a nicely times pass from Hitoshi Chihara, saw Arthur Levula charge through a gap to score 10 mters to the left of the posts. Yamagen failed with the conversion to make the score 29 v 12.
The Waseda side increased their lead with a penalty goal, given for a gaijin ruck infringement, and they now led 32 v 12.
Another penalty soon after, against Gorka Gerediaga for not releasing the ball in the tackle, saw Waseda score from a rolling maul on the right side, which was converted to give them an unassailable lead of 39 v 12.
The Gaijin had expected a better performance, having beaten the Waseda side in their last meeting, but they were outclassed in most departments. The only bright light was the performance of the scum which had the Waseda team back-peddaling on numerous occassions, especially in the first half.
The Gaijin backs failed to fire as a team and their line defense was ragged and sloppy. Long kicks into the corner also found them wanting. While Arthur Levula ran hard with the ball in hand and made some crunching tackles it was obvious that the man needs to lose a few pounds as his fitness was not up to his usual standards and this affected his positioning and ball handling.
Waseda RFC were a much better drilled unit and showed more hunger in both attack and defense. Their backline was a well drilled machine and their fluent passing was a credit to them.
SCORE: Waseda RFC ( ) TGRFC 12 (Apisai Bati 1, Arthur Levula 1 tries; M. Rarasea 1/2, Yamagen 0/1 conversions)
Man of the Match: Apisa Bati
Goat of the Match: Sovita Tai (Yellow card)
1. Gorka Gerediaga (Basque)
2. Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan)
3. Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan)
4. Jesse Takahashi (USA)
5. Joffa Harris (Australia)
6. Apisai Bati (vc) (Fiji)
7. Paul Bertier (France)
8. Mosese Rarasea (Fiji)
9. Eamonn Murphy (Ireland)
10. Hitoshi Chihara (c) (Japan)
11. Hidenobu Sato (Japan)
12. Arthur Levula (Fiji)
13. Sovita Tai (Fiji)
14. Ryo Takahashi (Japan)
15. Sota Kaneko (Japan)
16. Kosuke Yamamoto (Japan) 17. Andy Tindall (England) 18. Natsu Kunitomo (Japan) 19. Yuki 'Snowy' (Hong Kong) 20. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan) 21. Ryogo Takemura (Japan) 22. Touch Roy (Australia) 23. Yamagen (Japan)