The Tokyo Gaijin RFC turned up at the beautiful Inagi Stadium to do battle with Kichioji Wild Turkeys on a beautiful Autumn day. Their main aim was to continue their unbeaten run in the 2014 Shuto League. The Wild Turkeys had beaten another tough team in the league in the Tokyo Crusaders, last year's champions, so the Gaijin knew that they would be no pushover. The Gaijin got the victory they were looking for with an 8 tries to 3 romp coming home winners to the tune of 48 v 19.
The first try of the match went to the Gaijin in the 6th minute when a series of 'pick and go's got the Gaijin from their own half deep into Wild Turkey territory. The ball was then swung to Fijian centre Mosese Rarasea who crashed through a tackle and scored under the posts. He converted his own try and it was 7 v 0 to Mosese and the Gaijin.
In the 10th minute the Gaijin extended their lead after a strong run down the left flank of the field by fullback Toshinori Minamidate. After he was caught by the cover defense a quick recycle resulted in Sota Kaneko selling a 'dummy' and scoring under the posts. Mosese Rarasea stepped up to convert the try. Score 14 v 0 to the Gaijin.
Winger Jay Leroy went close to scoring for the Gaijin in the 15th minute but was taken into touch 1 meter out form the try line. Just two minutes later halfback Guillermo Alonso stretched out for the tryline but was inches short. It wasn't to matter though as the Gaijin won a penalty anyway and after a quick tap and ruck, prop Tsukasa Takasugi crashed over for a try. Mosese Rarasea missed this conversion to leave the score at 19 v 0 to the Gaijin.
The next brilliant piece of play didn't lead to a try but was worthy of the highlight reels. The Wild Turkeys No.6 looked to run down the blind near the halfway line and thought he was free until right-side winger Tatsuma Muto, perhaps the smallest guy on the field, came across and drove him into the air and into touch in a fantastic tackle.
This should have lifted the Gaijin but the Wild Turkeys continued to attack and it was a fortuitous kick that would see Wild Turkeys get their first try. The ball was swung out the backline from a scrum on the Gaijin 22 metre line and went along the ground to nobody. The Wild Turkeys outside centre booted the ball through and won the race to dive on it. With the successful conversion (and some good luck) they were back in the game at 19 v 7.
Guillermo Alonso and Apisai Bati combined with a pair of good runs and support play to get the Gaijin out of their half from the kickoff and into their opposition's 22 metre area. From a 5 metre scrum soon after, No.8 Takashi Tanikawa took advantage of the superior Gaijin shove to dive over from the back and score. Mosese Rarasea converted to make the score 26 v 7 to the Gaijin.
This score held until halftime. The Gaijin had dominated the half and Wild Turkeys had only managed to get on the scoreboard through some luck, but the Gaijin only made one change at 'oranges' when 22 year old Ueno, in his debut for the Gaijin, came on to replace 44 year old Tsukasa Takasugi, which required Tsunaki Tanaka moving to prop and Ueno moving into the second row. The Gaijin set piece had been solid after an early scare. The usually powerful Gaijin scrum, that has bested every other team in the Shuto League so far, was turned 180 degrees winning Wild Turkeys a reset and their feed. From that point on though the scrum got better and one particular powerful shunt had led to Takashi Tanikawa's try. Tanikawa and Yoann Peyroche were doing well jumping in the line outs as well.
Just 4 minutes into the second half the Gaijin increased their lead. Apisai Bati made a good run down the blind and then passed to Hitoshi Chihara who cut infield and ran 40 metres to score under the posts untouched. Mosese Rarasea converted and the Gaijin now led 33 v 7.
Wild Turkeys needed to score next if they were to stay in touch and that is exactly what they did. They scored a soft try off an easy line out win 30 metres out from the Gaijin line. In fact it looked like a double-movement as the ball carrier was brought down close to the line but the referee was happy with it and the try stood. The conversion did not though leaving the score at 33 v 12.
The next try followed another big tackle from Tatsuma Muto. With a 2-man overlap the Turkeys No.6 chose to take it himself and once again he was man-handled by the littlest guy on the field. Tatsuma 2 v Turkeys No6. 0. From the ensuing ruck Takashi Tanikawa made a steal and sent the ball out to Toshihiro Minamidate who raced away 40 metres to score. Rarasea missed the conversion but the Gaijin still had a big lead of 38 v 12.
The next try to the Gaijin came after a short kicking battle. Mosese Rarasea kicked downfield and the ball bounced unfavorably for the Wild Turkeys. They did manage to kick it back but it went straight to Jay leroy who ran from halfway, beat a tackle and then raced away to score. Rarasea missed the conversion. Score: 43 v 12 to the Gaijin.
The last Gaijin try came after a clever cross-field kick from Sota Kaneko. His pin-point kick found Toshinori Minamidate unmarked and he picked it up on the bounce and ran away to score untouched. Rarasea again missed the conversion but the Gaijin had an insurmountable lead of 48 v 12 with only about 7 minutes left.
The Gaijin had made numerous changes by now and their defense became a bit sloppy which led to a runaway try to the Wild Turkeys out-side centre, despite a good chase by Inigo Carro. They managed to convert which made the final score 48 v 19.
It was good to see Dave Kelver get back out on the field for the Gaijin after a couple of years out of the game with family commitments. Tozo Oda also made the most of his 10 minutes on the field with 2 steals and a forced penalty against the Wild Turkeys for holding on to the ball.
The forwards had set the platform with a solid set-piece and the backs did most of the scoring with good running lines and support play. Onwards and upwards for the Gaijin. With one more round left in the 2014 Shuto League the Gaijin are closing in on taking out the Championship....and could do it undefeated if they keep playing like they did today.
SCORE: TGRFC 48 (Toshihiro Minanidate 2, Mosese Rarasea 1, Sota Kaneko 1, Tsukasa Takasugi 1, Takashi Tanikawa 1, Hitoshi Chihara 1, Jay Leroy 1 tries; M. Rarasea 4/8 conversions) Wild Turkeys 19 ( 3 tries, 2/3 conversions)
Man of the Match: Toshinori Minamidate.
1. Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan)
2. Liam Ramshaw (England)
3. Tsukasa Takasugi (Japan)
4. Lachlan Ainley (c) (Australia)
5. Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan)
6. Apisai Bati (Fiji)
7. Yohan Peyroche (France)
8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
9. Guillermo Alonso (Spain)
10. Sota Kaneko (Japan)
11. Jay Leroy (Canada)
12. Mosese Rarasea (Fiji)
13. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)
14. Tatsuma Muto (Japan)
15. Toshinori Minamidate (Japan)
Reserves: Dave Kelver (USA), Inigo Caro (England), Michael Koch (Germany), Ueno (Japan), Tozo Oda (Japan), Wataru Sato (Japan), Alaister Nimmo (England), Akira Yamagen (Japan), Hideyuki Sato (Japan), Yoshihiro Sato (Japan)