Timeline: November 23rd, 2014
2015 Shuto League Champions - the Tokyo Gaijin RFC
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC gathered at Tatsumi Ground for their last Shuto League game for 2014 having already clinched the title. There was still a lot to play for as a win would mean that had gone through the season undefeated. Their opposition, All JIn Jan RFC on the other hand, wanted a win, or at least a bonus point for 4 tries, to stave off relegation to the second division.
The Gaijin did get the victory they wanted but not without some scares along the way. All Jin Jan ended up getting their bonus point which keeps them in the top division and scored more points against the TGRFC than any other opponent in this years competition.
The Gaijin kicked off and the first scrum did not auger well for All Jin Jan as the Gaijin swiftly overpowered them. The play swung acutely though, when a loose pass in the Gaijin backline led to a 75 metre intercept try to All Jin Jan which was duly converted to give them an early 7 v 0 lead. Get your game faces on fellas!
The Gaijin came storming back when captain Lachlan Ainley made a steal from the kickoff and they were held up moments later over the tryline. From the following 5 metre scrum the Gaijin shunted their opposition backwards and No.8 Takashi Tanikawa just had to dive on the ball to score. Angus Brown converted to bring the scores even at 7 v 7.
In the 10th minute Tanikawa made a strong run from yet another powerful scrum by the Gaijin. He beat the firrst defender but was caught by the fullback but managed to offload the ball to Apisai Bati who fended off the covering winger to score. Brown again converted to push the Gaijin out to a 14 v 7 lead.
All Jin Jan went close next when they put a grubber through and seemed to be leading the chase to the ball but big lock John Simpson managed to get back there in an impressive show of pace for a big fella and snuff out All Jin Jan's hopes.
In the 18th minute All Jin Jan did manage to break the Gaijin's line when some good power running in their forwards and some bashful Gaijin defense saw them rewarded with a five pointer. They failed with the conversion though, leaving them narrowly behind at 14 v 12.
Not long after the kickoff All Jin Jan scored out wide with extra numbers and some terrible tackling by the Gaijin. They failed to convert but were back in the lead at 17 v 14 at the 24th minute mark.
At the 32 minute mark a Gaijin rolling maul was driven 20 metres. As the maul steamrolled towards the AJJ line Apisai Bati broke off and charged over the tryline with 2 defenders hanging off him. Brown failed with this attempt but the Gaijin were back in the lead at 19 v 17.
The last try of the half came in the 35th minute and it was to be the Gaijin that would extend their narrow lead. A big downfield kick from Angus Brown was chased hard by Wataru Sato and he managed to tackle the fullback just after he took the ball. Sovita Tui was quick in to help out and the Gaijin won the ball and it was fed to the oncoming support players with captain Lachlan Ainley managing to fend off the last tackler to score. Brown failed with the conversion but the Gaijin would take a converted try lead into halftime. Score: 24 v 17.
For a team leading the competition, the Gaijin seemed to be running at half-empty. The 'undefeated season' aim at the beginning of the game seemed to have gone out the window. On the other hand, All Jin Jan, who were struggling against relegation, were doing all they could to stave it off and already had three of their desired 4 tries. They were playing with more gusto and more intent.
The Gaijin started the second half better with Angus Brown scoring and then converting his own try to stretch their lead to a more comfortable 31 v 17.
In the 7th minute of the half Sovita Tui made a strong run for a try and Brown added the extras to increase the Gaijin lead to 38 v 17.
All Jin Jan pulled back the lead a little with their 4th try and earned their much-needed bonus point to make the score 38 v 24.
At the 15 minute mark, captain Lachie Ainley burst out from the back of a ruck and charged at the tryline. A defender went low on him but he hurdled the guy and was tripped but managed to reach out and score, his second of the day. Brown converted and the Gaijin now had a seemingly unassailable lead of 45 v 24.
The scoring continued for the Gaijin when Arthur Levula took a quick lineout and threw the ball to Apisa Bati Junior. Junior showed good pace to outflank the opposition winger to score. Brown missed the kick leaving the score at 50 v 24 to the Gaijin.
All Jin Jan then scored next after a long run down the left flank. The conversion resulted in a score line of 50 v 31.
Junior made it a double when he was on the end of a good backline move and finished it with pace. Yamagen converted this one to make the score 57 v 31.
With barely any time left on the clock All Jin Jan kicked off one last time and managed to score after a monumental error by the Gaijin. The ball was kicked deep and allowed to bounce. It took an irregular angle but still should have been handled comfotably. Three Gaijin backs couldn't decide who would take the ball and watched in surprise as a keen All Jin Jan chaser dived on the ball behind the tryline to score. The successful conversion, on the final whistle, made the eventual score line 57 v 38 to the Tokyo Gaijin RFC.
It was a shocking way to finish the game. The Gaijin had dominated but their defense was poor on the day and let tries in far too easily. All Jin Jan always looked capable of getting across the white line with ball in hand. Their forwards seemed to have more passion then their opponents and their outside backs always looked dangerous. Once a dominant team in the competition, it was good to see them get the 4 try bonus point that ensures they stay in first division.
The Gaijin also looked dangerous whenever they had the ball and could have put on more points except for some sloppy handling or bad "reads" in attack. Their scrum was immense and set up a good platform for go-forward ball. Their line defense was their achilles heel.
Three players ended up with doubles - captain Lachlan Ainley, the eventual Man of the Match, Apisai Bati and his 19 year old son Apisa Bati Junior.
Not the greatest finish to the year but well done to the Tokyo Gaijin boys for going through the Shuto League undefeated and winning back the trophy, after a two year interval.
Man of the Match and double try scorer - Lachlan Ainley
SCORE: TGRFC 57 (Apisai Bati 2, Lachlan Ainley 2, Apisai Bati Junior 2, Takashi Tanikawa 1, Angus Brown 1, Sovita Tui 1 tries; A, Brown 5/8, Yamagen 1/1 conversions) All Jin Jan 38 (6 tries, 4/6 conversions)
Man of the Match: Lachlan Ainley
Goat of the Match: Gorka Gerediaga (for going to the wrong field)
1. Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan)
2. Liam Ramshaw (England)
3. Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan)
4. Lachlan Ainley (c) (Australia)
5. John Simpson (USA)
6. Apisai Bati (Fiji)
7. Yoann Peyroche (France)
8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
9. Eamonn Murphy (Ireland)
10. Angus Brown (Scotland)
11. Jay Leroy (Canada)
12. Mosese Rarasea (Fiji)
13. Sovita Tui (Fiji)
14. Wataru Sato (Japan)
15. Toshihiro Minamidate (Japan)
Reserves : Gorka Gerediaga (Basque), Tsukasa Takasugi (Japan), Will Baker (Wales), Ueno (Japan), Inigo Carro (England), Michael Koch (Germany), Glen Amos (England), Tozo Oda (Japan), Tatsuma Muto (Japan), Ryogo Takemura (Japan), Hitoshi Chihara (Japan), Arthur Levula (Fiji), Apisai Bati Junior (Fiji), Akira Yamagen (Japan), Hidenobu Sato (Japan). Yoshihiro Sato (Japan)
The after-game victory huddle