Dateline: July 20th, 2014
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC gathered at Tatsumi Rugby Ground for their last game of the spring season hoping to finish off with a win before the summer break. The Gaijin had two new players in halfback Alex Moule and Kazuhiro Takeshita, and Warren Adamson was making his return after a 3 year absence. The talking point, though, was the 15's debut for the Gaijin of 18 year old school boy Apisai Bati Junior (he had played a few minutes in a 10's competition 2 years ago), the son of club stalwart Apisai Bati.
It was to be Bati Senior though who stole all the limelight as everything he touched turned to gold. Bati broke the club record currrently held by two current members in Joe Nawaqavanua and Sam Dereock of 5 tries. He finished the match with an incredible 6 tries. Not to be outdone his son, Bati Junior, scored the only other try of the game for the Gaijin.
Bati Senior and Junior.
No-side club were actually short of players so the Gaijin lent them some heavy artillery in the form of Gorka Gerediaga, Sam Deroeck, Junpei Shirakawa, Yamagen, Alex Moule (for a half) and Wataru Sato (for a half).
It was to be Apisai Bati Junior to kick off in his debut game. The match started with some good interchanges between both teams with Joseph Vanualailai heavily involved - another man who recently made a comeback after 10 years out of the game.
Arthur Levula made the first promising break of the game with a good run and then passed off to Bati Senior as he came to the last line of defense. Bati ran the last 40 metres untouched to score under the posts. Mosese Rarasea converted and the Gaijin were out to a good start with a lead of 7 v 0.
Bati Senior and Arthur Levula continued their good work in the next phase of play from the kick off and helped get the Gaijin deep into No-side territory. Sota Kaneko dummied and went through a huge gap and should have scored under the posts but was too casual and as he went to put the ball down he was held up by an opposition player in the form of the Gaijin's own Junpei Shirakawa. He was later given Goat of the Game for the casualness of his play and for blowing a certain try.
Soon after, from a 5 metre scrum, Bati Senior carried from the back of the scrum and smashed through 3 players to dot down. Rarasea converted and the Gaijin were now 14 v 0 up.
Arthur Levula made a good run from the kickoff and followed with a nice chip and regather. The play broke down however and an opposition player - that man Junpei Shirakawa again - ran through a splintered Gaijin defensive line beating a handful of tacklers in a zigzagging run which put No Side RFC deep into Gaijin territory for the next 5 minutes.
Alexx Moule, another Gaijin player playing for the opposition, slipped through the tackle of big Joe Nawaqavanua from a 5 metre scrum to score under the posts. With the successful conversion the score was now 14 v 7.
The Gaijin looked like increasing their lead soon after when Mosese Rarasea shot away from the defense. Before he could ground the ball over the tryline though, the referee blew his whistle to signal the last pass from Joe Nawaqavanua to Rarasea was forward.
Junpei Shirakawa made the scores closer when he made another of those jinking 50 metre runs before he was caught by the cover defense. The ball was quickly recycled though and Shirakawa backed up to score for No Side RFC. The conversion was unsuccesful but it was now game on at 14 v 12 to the Gaijin.
The final score before halftime was to go to Apisa Bati Senior. The Gaijin got a rolling maul going and after 20 metres all Bati had to do was flop over the tryline from the back. Rarasea failed to convert to make the half time score 19 v 12 to the Gaijin.
At half time, the Gaijin swapped halfbacks bringing Alex Moule into their side and giving their opponents Wataru Sato to play half. This was to see how Moule gelled with his new team mates. He had played well thus far for the opposition.
The Gaijin started the second half brightly with a good weaving run by Kazuhiro Takeshita. He then gave a nice inside ball to Bati Senior who raced away to score. Rarasea converted to make the score 26 v 12 in the Gaijin's favour.
The No Side club then had a period of dominance after getting 4 or 5 consecutive penalties but good defense from the Gaijin kept them out.. Fifteen metres inside the Gaijin's half No Side lost their own scrum feed to a dominant Gaijin scrum. Apisai Bati Senior peeled off the back but spilt the ball in a tackle, perhaps his only blemish for the game. Joe Nawaqavanua monstered the ball holder to the ground and the Gaijin came up with the ball and Bati Senior sneaked down a very narrow blind side and sped away. As he came to the covering fullback in Sam Deroeck he stepped inside and left Deroeck floundering and charged over ten metres to the left of the posts for a superb individual effort. Rarasea failed to convert so the score was now 31 v 12.
No Side rebounded with the next try of the game. A Gaijin line out 5 metres into No Side's half was apparently not straight. From the ensuing scrum the ball was swung wide and Sam Dereock scored after a long run. With the conversion unsuccessful the score stood at 31 v 17.
Another long run from Sam Dereock got his side just outside the Gaijin try line but scrambling Gaijin defense forced a penalty. No Side were back on attack shortly after following a penalty against the Gaijin for obstruction. A quick tap from 5 metres out caught the Gaijin unawares and No Side were over again. Score : 31 v 22 to the Gaijin.
Mosese Rarasea's kickoff did not go the required 10 metres. From the scrum in centre field No Side went on the attack again. The penalties were beginning to mount up against the Gaijin and a few were for rough, niggly play. Once again, No Side took a quick tap 10 meters out from the Gaijin line and forced their way over in the corner. With the unsuccessful conversion the scores were now a close 31 v 27 to the Gaijin.
The Gaijin were beginning to lose their discipline as No Side continued to threaten and the referee continued to favor the attacking team. A few small scuffless broke out here and there as tempers flared and the referee failed to get control. A good tackle by Arthur Levula forced a turnover and this gave the Gaijin the impetus they needed to break the wind in the sails of their opposition. They worked their way deep into No Side territory and won a scrum 5 meters out form the try line. It was to be that man again, Apisai Bati Senior, who broke off the back of the scrum and crashed his way over to score his 6th try of the game. Rarasea failed with the conversion but at 36 v 27 to the Gaijin, No Side would have to score twice to win.
There were to be some more 'handbags' after a high shot from one of the Gaijin players but the referee managed to calm things down and play out the last few minutes.
It was to be the Gaijin though that had the last say when an Apisai Bati scored again - this time it was not to be Senior though. That's right....Apisa Bati Junior scored his first try for the Gaijin on debut. A loose pass from No Side around halfway was booted ahead by Junior who managed to win the race to the ball and dive over for a memorable debut. Rarasea once again failed with the conversion and then the referee blew the final whistle to leave the final score at 41 v 27 to the Gaijin.
One could be excused for thinking that there were only two players on the field. Apisai Bati Senior was in everything. A comment heard after the game was "we should bring Junior every week if his dad plays like that when he's around". It was a phenomonal effort. Junior also had an excellent game and his spiraling kicks for touch were good meter eaters. He played solidly at fullback and made some good last ditch tackles to save possible try scoring chances. Arthur Levula was also strong for the Gaijin making some incisive runs and strong tackles. Also, Kazuhiro Takeshita did a good job trying to mark Sam Dereock and Junpei Shirakawa, the two Gaijin backs playing for No Side. He also made some good runs.
In fact, the Gaijin players who played for No Side had excellent games making No Side Club so much stronger and making it more of a contest. Well done to Sam Dereock, Junpei Shirakawa, Gorka Gerediaga, Alex Moule, Wataru Sato and Yamagen.
Apisai Snr and another long term player, Joffa Harris, both well into their 40's, always said that they would not retire until Apisai Jnr played on the same team as them. It's done now so both players can happily sail off into the sunset having achieved one of their goals.
SCORE: TGRFC 41 (Apisai Bati Snr 6, Apisa Bati Jnr 1 tries; M. Rarasea 3/7 conversions) No Side 27 (Alex Moule 1, Junpei Shirakawa 1, Sam Deroeck 1, + 2 more tries; 1/5 converssions)
Man of the Match: Apisai Bati senior
Goat of the Game: Sota Kaneko
1. Warren Adamson (South Africa)
2. Liam Ramshaw (England)
3. Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan)
4. Jospeh Vanualailai (Fiji)
5. Andy Tindall (England)
6. Arthur Levula (Fiji)
7. Takeshi Ochiai (Japan)
8. Apisai Bati (c) (Fiji)
9. Sota Kaneko (Japan)
10. Eamonn Murphy (vc) (Ireland)
11. Yoshihiro Sato (Japan)
12. Mosese Rarasea (Fiji)
13. Kazuhiro Takeshita (Japan)
14. Ryo Takahashi (Japan)
15. Apisai Bati Junior (Fiji/Japan)
Reserves: Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan), Joffa Harris (Australia), Tozo (Japan), Joe Nawaqavanua (Fiji), Yoan Peyroche (France), Wataru Sato (Japan), Alex Moule (England)