Dateline: June 1st, 2014
On this beautiful Spring day, with conditions more like summer, the Tokyo Gaijin RFC only had won thing on their wish list and that was a win at all costs after their poor Tokyo Cup campaign which recently ended. They were up against Otowa RFC, a team ranked within the top three in the Saitama area, at the scenic Omiya Kenpo ground. The TGRFC delivered more than that, playing Otowa RFC off the park with an inpressive 94 v 0 result. It was a 14 try romp with Fijian flankers Joe Nawaqavanua (with 4 tries) and Apisa Bati (3 tries) scoring half the teams tries between them.
With the match slated as a 'friendly' some members took the opportunity to rest and the TGRFC was struggling for tight forward numbers in the week preceding the game. Yu Naito and Kosuke Yamamoto answered the call to help out in the front row and Bryan O'Brien, back in Japan from the USA for a short stay, put his hand up to play lock, despite never having done so and being far more familiar with wing or fullback play. Also, David Chan was back in the squad after a year out of the game.
The Gaijin started with a good forward drive deep into the Otowa 22 with fluent pick and drives. The ball was then given out to the backs and standoff Phillip Ferreira threw a dummy pass to Sovita Tui. The defense hung off him and he scythed through the defense and then passed off to Tui as he came to the fullback for Tui have an open run to the tryline to score an early try. With Mosese Rarasea's conversion the Gaijin led 7 v 0 and Otowa RFC had not even touched the ball.
Another strong forwards drive from the kickoff with Apisa Bati and Joe Nawqavanua heavily involved had the Otowa side defending in their 22 again but a ruck penalty went against the Gaijin to stem the attacking flow. The Otowa side finally got some quality possession and made good yards down the right flank. The TGRFC cover managed to close it down but Sovita Tai, was penalised for a high tackle. After yellow cards in the previous two matches for the same offence there was a sigh of relief that just a penalty came of it. The Otowa side went close to scoring but last-ditch defense on the try line kept them out and then forced a turnover.
The Gaijin worked their way down the other end and Mosese Rarasea was over after taking a quick tap. We're not sure if the try was disallowed because the captain had already said they were going for the sideline or because the referee had failed to see the quick tap on the ground. From the scrum the Gaijin almost pushed the Otowa club over their own tryline but they managed to scramble a kick upfield. Ryo Takahshi was waiting for it and slipped a pass to Mosese Rarasea, who was not to be denied by the referee this time, and broke 2 tackles and ran 30 metres to score. He crossed the line out wide but improved his position to score 10 metres to the left of the posts but still failed to convert. The score now read 12 v 0.
Hitoshi Chihara was the next to score for the Gaijin after a great break by Takashi Tanikawa and good support play by Joe Nawaqavanua. Rarasea converted and the score line now stood at 19 v 0.
From the kickoff, a quick recycle, saw the ball in Phillip Ferreira's hands. He shaped to kick, and made a nice break. As the defense closed him down he passed thee ball off to Joe Nawaqavanua who strolled the last 30 metres to score. Rarasea converted to now take the lead to 26 v 0 in the 17th minute.
In the 21st minute the Gaijin pushed the Otowa forwards off their own scrum feed. Joe Nawqavanua found the ball at his feet and charged down the blind side. He drew the fullback and winger and then passed inside to Apisa Bati, who beat the covering winger with a sidestep and scored under the posts. Rarasea converted to make the score 33 v 0.
The next 10 minutes saw no points scored as the teams went back and forth in search of points.
A good break by Tomohiro Setoguchi up the middle of the defensive line led to the next try. he drew the fullback and passed it off to Yu Naito looming up in support. Naito ran 30 metres by was caught by the cover defense in the right hand corner. A quick recycle by his supporting team mates and Wataru Sato raced through a gaping hole and ran around closer to the posts. Rarasea converted and the Gaijinn lead had now hit 40 v 0.
An almost identical play followed off the kickoff with Tomohiro Setoguchi making up a break up the middle and then linking with Yu Naito. Naito was again caught by the cover 10 metres out in the right hand corner but the support was a bit slower this time and the Otowa defenders managed to steal the ball. They struggled to get out of their territory though before losing it. A good run by Phillip Ferreira, which saw him bumping and fending off players, led to him offloading in a last-ditch desperate tackle to Joe Nawaqavanua, who didn't need to do anything but stride the last 15 metres to score untouched. Rarasea failed with the conversion and the referee immediately blew the whistle for half-time meaning the first half of 35 minutes (it was a friendly) was up and the Gaijin had a comfortable lead of 45 v 0.
The second half began with three changes to the Gaijin with Mosese Rarasea going from fullback into lock to replace Bryan O'Brien who had to head off for some appointment. O'Brien had done a great job in the line out and would be hard to replace but Takashi Tanikawa put his hand up to be the main jumper for the Gaijin in the second half. Yoshihiro Sato replaced Wataru Sato (no relation) and David Chan slipped into the backline. Akira Yamagen came on to play fullback.
The Otowa plan in the second half was obviously to get out of their territory and play at the other end as they resorted to a lot more kicking from the standoff position.
The Gaijin were almost on the scoreboard again very early in the half but Phillip Ferreira, having a great game so far, blew a certain try when he took on the last line of defense in the fullback and ignored a three man overlap to his left. The fullback took him down and forced Ferrira to lose the ball.
Just a few minutes later Takashi Tanikawa ran from the back of a scrum and beat three tacklers. He then got tackled by the fullback but managed to slip a pass to Joe Nawaqavanua, who cantered over under the posts unchallenged. Rarasea converted and the Gaijin had broken the half-century mark with a lead of 52 v 0.
The lead was extended when Yu Naito made a break off the side of a ruck. He handed the ball off to Sovita Tui as he was about to get tackled and Tui went over the line untouched. Rarasea again converted and the scoreline was beginning to look embarrassing for Otowa RFC at 59 v 0 down.
Directly from the kickoff there was a good run by Gorka Gerediaga. This was followed up by another strong run from Yu Naito and then Takashi Tanikawa which got the Gaijin deep into their opponents half.. Then from a ruck inside the Otowa 22 metre area Joe Nawaqavanua broke through 3 tackles to score. Rarasea converted to make the score 66 v 0.
At the 54 minute mark (19 minutes into the second half) there was an intercept by Mosese Rarasea just when the Otowa club seemed to be threatening. Rarasea shot off upfield and kept going all the way for an 80 metre try. Even the fullback gave up the chase. Medical staff were rushing for their medical kits just in case Rarasea's body gave up on him during the run. He's not looking anywhere near as fit as he used to be but the man can still run. Great efffort. He was too exhausted to take the kick so Yamagen stepped up to knock it home and make the score 73 v 0.
The score kept ticking over when Gorka Gerediaaga was rewarded for all his hard work in the game by getting his own 5 pointer. He broke through the defensive line on the blind side just outside the Otowa 22 metre area. He was ankle-tapped but just managed to stay on his feet and run the last 10 metres to score. With Yamagen's conversion the score now stood at 80 v 0.
Another good break by Mosese Rarasea was carried on by Apisa Bati but was then lost in a ruck. However, it was quickly recovered and Joe Nawaqavanua went on a 20 metre run through two tacklers to score. Yamagen again converted and the score was now 87 v 0.
The Gaijin would add one more try to their tally when Apisa Bati got his hattrick. Hitoshi Chihara went close and probably should have scored but he tried to zigzag in his effort to confuse the fullback but wa caught by him anyway. Bati picked the ball up from the back of the ruck and managed to break out of a tackle to score under the posts. With the final conversion going over the black dot and then the sound of the referee's whistle the Gaijin had won 94 v 0.
A lot of people were quite surprised by the result as Otowa RFC are a much better team than the result showed. The Gaijin had also had a poor Tokyo Cup campaign and quite a few regular squad members were not in attendance. Today, however, they did seem to put everything together a lot better and support play was excellent.
Choosing the Man of the Match was difficult as so many players had good performances. The Fijian connection of Apisai Bati, Joe Nawaqavanua, Mosese Rarasea and Sovita Tui all played well. Rarasea scored that 80 metre try plus another one and converted 8 from 10 shots at goal and Bati got 3 tries. Nawaqavanua got 4 tries and made some monster tackles, and Sovita Tui got two tries....so between them the Fijians got 11 tries and 71 points. Not a bad day at the office.
Yu Naito also had a very good game in the forwards and showed some excellent support play and good pace for a chunky fellow. Takashi Tanikawa was his usual busy self and made a lot of breaks. Bryan O'Brien did very well for his first game at lock even if he did have to leave the field at halftime to race off somewhere else. He attacked each ruck and maul with vigor.
The standout in the backs was standoff Phillip Ferreira. He produced a controlled performance to enhancce his claims for the number 10 jersey vacated after a long term injury to regular standfoff Toshi MIyano. He mixed it up by making some powerful charges but also some sweet dummy passes that bamboozled his opponents as he glided into gaps.
The standout performers though, were prop Tomohiro Setoguchi and lock/prop Gorka Gerediaga who had excellent games. Setoguchi made quite a few breaks and hit the rucks and mauls hard. Gerediaga recceived almost every second half kickoff and made ground up the middle from them. He was also instrumental in many breaks and mauled and rucked with intensity.
SCORE: TGRFC 94 (Joe Nawaqavnua 4, Apisa Bati 3, Mosese Rarasea 2, Sovita Tui 2, Hitoshi Chihara 1, Wataru Sato1, Gorka Gerediaga 1 tries; M. Rarasea 8/10 conversions, Yamagen 4/4 conversions) OTOWA RFC 0.
Man of the Match: Gorka Gerediaga, Tomohiro Setoguchi
1. Kosuke Yamamoto (Japan)
2. Yu Naito (Japan)3
3. Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan)
4. Bryan O'Brien (USA)
5. Gorka Gerediaga (Basque)
6. Joe Nawaqavanua (Fiji)
7. Apisai Bati (c) (Fiji)
8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
9. HIroshi Koishi (Japan)
10. Phillip Ferreira (South Africa)
11. Ryo Takahashi (Japan)
12. Sovita Tai (Fiji)
13. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)
14. Wataru Sato (Japan)
15. Mosese Rarasea (Fiji)
16. David Chan (Australia), Hiroyuki Sato (Japan), Akira Yamagen (Japan)