Dateline: 3rd May, 2015
A rugby game in the middle of Golden Week is generally not a good idea as many people take the 5 day holiday to get out of Tokyo and do a spot of travelling.. The Tokyo Gaijin RFC struggled to get a team together in the lead-up to the game but it would be STRUG RFC (an acronym for STreet RUGby) who would struggle on the day as the Gaijin put up a cricket score against them.
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC had 13 players half an hour before kickoff and had to borrow a player from an OB's team that played before hand (No.11 Kensuke Yamazaki) and the referee of that game (No.9 Kinta Kaneda). As usual, Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka turned up an hour late, just before kickoff to give the team one reserve.
The game started at a hectic pace and the Gaijin were full of running early. After just one minute of play Gorka Gerediaga was over the white line to score after a nice break from Ryo Takahashi and a quick penalty tap from Tommy Nasuno had the defense in tatters. Yamagen converted and the Gaijin were away to a 7 v 0 lead.
From the kickoff, Joffa Harris went straight through the defense. With nobody in support and the fullback looming he hacked the ball across field on the angle hoping that one of his outside backs would get there first and they almost did. Joffa was castigated by his fellow forwards for kicking the ball and was later given the Goat of the Game as "forwards don't kick". (Editor's note: Very harsh penalty).
Anthony Monette kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Gaijin when he busted through two tackles after fielding a kick and then ran 50 meters to score under the posts. Yamagen's successful conversion made the lead 14 v 0.
Tommy Nasuno (usually a prop but his mobility and the aforementioned lack of players saw him playing at centre) scored soon after in a move he handled twice in. With the successful conversion from in front by Yamagen the Gaijin had jumped out to a 21 v 0 lead.
Shuta Aoki scored the next try after earlier breaks by Joffa Harris and Takuya Ichizono. Aoki finished off the move with a 30 metre burst to the line and showed surprising pace for a big man with such a low centre of gravity. Yamagen again converted to take the score out to 28 v 0.
STRUG RFC then put a stop to the procession of tries to the Gaijin with two of their own with only the first being converted. Both tries came from rather weak defense in the Gaijin backline. With all the easy tries on offer they only seemed to be interested in running the ball and had forgot how to defend. Score: 28 v 12 to the Gaijin.
The next try went to Joffa Harris after he followed a ball that was hacked through twice by Kensuke Yamazaki and Joffa won the race to the ball, picked it up about 15 metres out from the tryline, threw a dummy to keep the fullback away, and then strolled over under the posts. Yamagen duly converted and the Gaijin led 35 v 12.
The next two tries to the Gaijin both went to hooker Liam Ramshaw as he supported well and finished with 20 metre bursts. Yamagen converted both and the Gaijin went into halftime with a very healthy 49 v 12 lead.
With only one reserve the Gaijin brought on Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka to replace Daniel Barnett who was struggling with a hamstring problem. The mantra at hafltime was to "get back out there and practise being a bit tighter in defense in preparation for the Tokyo Cup next week but most of all, let's have fun".
The Gaijin continued the second half where they left off in the first. Joffa Harris got the ball away in the tackle to the supporting Takuya Ichizono who raced away 50 metres untouched to score. Yamagen failed with this conversion to ruin his perfect record so far. Score: 54 v 12 to the Gaijin.
Shuta Aoki made another good 30 metre run right up the guts for the next try. Joffa Harris was first to the ruck and threw a one handed pass out to the unmarked Liam Ramshaw who ran the remaining 20 metres to score his third try of the afternoon. Yamagen again missed the conversion. Score: 59 v 12 to the Gaijin.
From the kickoff, Yamagen made a break and then offloaded to his outside backs. Winger Anthony Monette finished off the move running 50 metres to score. Yamagen converted what he started and the Gaijin had a 66 v 12 lead.
Straight from the kickoff, and after just one ruck in the Gaijin half, Tommy Nasuno broke through and ran all the way to the tryline, rounding the fullback on the way to score next to the posts. With Yamagen's successful conversion the Gaijin lead was now a huge 73 v 12.
Joffa Harris made a nice 30 metre break just one ruck play after the kickoff, slicing through between standoff and inside centre. Takuya Ichiczono loomed up on his right to take the final pass as the fullback came in to shut Joffa down. Yamagen failed to convert Score: 78 v 12
Joffa was also involved in the next try as half Kinta Kaneda went blind from the next ruck after the kickoff. Joffa made about 30 metres down the blind wing and managed to pass the ball to Takashi Tanikawa as the defense converged on him. Tanikawa then ran the remaining 30 metres to score. Yamagen failed with the conversion. Score: 83 v 12.
The final nail in the coffin for STRUG RFC was scored by Gaijin speedster Takuya Ichizono when he raced away from the defense from halfway to score untouched. Yamagen converted this one from in front to make the final score 90 v 12.
While the game was not a great warmup for the Tokyo Cup second round, it was perfect for Golden Week and as a 'B' fixture for a few of the newer TGRFC players. There were way too many holes in the STRUG defensive line and the Gaijin will find that the teams in the Tokyo Cup will not be anywhere near as easy to break. With possession easy to come by, the game was not a good one to help improve the Gaijin defense, which is one thing that will need to improve by next weekend. There were times in the game where the Gaijin would receive the ball from the kickoff, have a ruck or two and then break through to score. It was then a case of rinse & repeat there at one stage in the second half.
Man of the Match for the Gaijin was Takuya Ichizono. His pace is express and he also knows how to read a game and where to be at the right time. In only his second game for the Gaijin he is proving to be a valuable find for the club. Anthony Monette, another relatively new player, made the most of a rare start, showing strength and good pace to score his two tries. Front rower Tommy Nasuno didn't disappoint at inside centre and picked up two nice tries.
Yamagen did well to stem the kicking woes of recent weeks but admittedly most tries were scored very close to the posts.
The forwards worked well as a unit but their strength was taken away when STRUG RFC requested no-push scrums at the beginning of the game. It was just a 'friendly' but the scrum is a point of strength of the Gaijin pack and disppointed the big fellas up front. Liam Ramshaw led the pack with three well taken tries.
SCORE: TGRFC 90 (Takuya Ichizono 4, Liam Ramshaw 3, Tommy Nasuno 2, Anthony Monette 2, Gorka Gerediaga 1, Shuta Aoki 1, Joffa Harris 1 tries; Yamagen 10/14 conversions) STRUG RFC 12 (2 tries; 1/2 conversions)
Man of the Match: Takuya Ichizono
Goat of the Match: Joffa Harris
1. Shuta Aoki (Japan)
2. Liam Ramshaw (England)
3. Tsukasa Takasugi (Japan)
4. Daniel Barnett (England)
5. Kosuke Yamamoto (Japan)
6. Joffa Harris (Australia)
7. Gorka Gerediaga (Basque)
8. Takashi Tanikawa (C) (Japan)
9. Kinta Kaneda (Japan)
10. Takuya Ichizono (Japan)
11. Kensuke Yamazaki (Japan)
12. Tommy Nasuno (Japan)
13. Ryo Takahashi (Japan)
14. Anthony Monette (USA)
15. Akira Yamagen (Japan)
Reserve: Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan), Max Manson (slated to play standoff but did not play due to injury in warm-up)