Dateline: 17th May, 2015

The Tokyo Gaijin RFC continued their winning run in the 2015 Tokyo Cup but not without some tense final moments as Shinjuku Jacks scored 31 of their 38 points against 14 men and almost ran the Gaijin down in the second half. The Gaijin ran in 7 tries to 6 to secure a 39 v 38 win and march into the quarter finals. Halfback and vice-captain Eamonn Murphy faces a stint on the side line (a one match ban) after being red-carded early in the second half. Just before halftime (37th minute), the Gaijin had captain Apisai Bati yellow carded which meant they played 43 minutes with only 14 players.

The Gaijin, who kicked off with a  slight wind at their backs, started the match very brightly when vice-captain Eamonn Murphy scored in the second minute of the game. From the kickoff by the Gaijin, Shinjuku Jacks kicked it back almost immediately and would wish they had not when a good string of passes ended with Murphy, who dummied past the last defender to score. Sota Kaneko missed with the conversion.Score: 5 v 0

The Gaijin dominated territory and possession again from the restart. The Shinjuku Jacks managed to secure a lineout but their throw was not straight, something that would haunt them all game. The Gaijin lost their scrum due to an ugly screw but it would be the only one all game as their scrum showed that the screw was probably the only weapon the Shinjuku Jacks had, as they were over-powered in the set piece all game.

The Gaijin dominated the next two scrums inside the Jacks 22. Captain Apisai Bati ran blind from another screwed scrum and it may have led to a try but for a well-read intercept from the Jack's winger. Luckily for the Gaijin they stole the ball right back and Takashi Tanikawa ran in to score. Sota Kaneko again missed the conversion. Score 10 v 0.

From a lineout on the Jack's 22 Apisai Bati did the "banana" move which has proved rewarding for him on numerous occassions before, but was taken by the defense before he could reach the try line. He did manage to pass the ball off to Liam Ramshaw who went very close to scoring except for equally good last-ditch defense forcing him into touch. Once again though, the 5 metre lineout to Shinjuku Jacks was called 'not straight' and from a strong Gaijin scrum Eamonn Murphy again dummied his way over the line to score. Guille Alonso took over the kicking but had as much success as Kaneko. Score: 15 v 0.

It wasn't  until the 14th minute that Shinjuku Jacks made their first serious foray into the Gaijin half after a nice run down the left after quick action from a turn-over ball. The Gaijin were penalised in the same movement for a tackle on a player without the ball. Once again the Jacks' throw-in was called 'not straight' and all their hard work went down the drain. Sota Kaneko kicked the Gaijin back into the Jack's half and the Jacks had to start all over again. Despite yet another 'not straight' lineout call against them an uncharachteristic drop by Gaijin fullback Toshinori Minamidate allowed them to get back into the Gaijin 22, but they kicked the ball away.

They finally got the try they were searching for and it all came from a loose Gaijin pass. Gaijin flanker Paul Bertier made a nice 20 metre break into the Jack's half but his offloaded pass from the ground was intercepted and three or four passes later Shinjuku Jacks had run 60 metres to score. Score: 15 v 7.

In the 28th minute the Gaijin extended their lead when centre Guille Alonso kicked through a loose ball 10 metres inside the Shinjuku Jack's half and wing Wataru Sato chased hard. He won the race to the ball, gave it another tap with his foot, and dived on it over the tryline. Alonso finally got a conversion for the Gaijin to give them a 22 v 7 lead.

In the 32nd minute Shinjuku Jacks got across the line again after some good interactive passing saw them beat the cover defense but the last pass was forward so the try was not given.

In the 36th minute a good rolling maul by the Gaijin forwards had the Jacks retreating and then the ball was swung wide by their backs and speedster Takuya Ichizono raced away to score. Alonso failed with the conversion. Score: 27 v 7 to the Gaijin.

A couple of minutes before halftime the Gaijin suffered a blow when captain Apisai Bati was given a yellow card for an over-zealous tackle on the opposition No.8 (and Captain??) off the ball. Bati seemed to get hit from behind by the No.8 after the whistle, and without the ball.and responded with a judo throw. While it was a dangerous throw the referee did not see it, nor what caused it, but the No.8 did a good job of miilking the yellow card.

The second half started promisingly for the Gaijin when Lachlan Ainley took the kickoff and put Takashi Tanikawa into a hole and he made his way 20 meters into Jack's half then tried to pass onto Guille Alonso but his pass went to ground with two supporters looming.

Moments later Takuya Ichizono took a kick on his own halfway and ran it back at the opposition. Alex Moule continued the good work up the middle then passed back to Ichizono and the move finished with Guille Alonso diving over in just the 2nd minute of the second half. Alonso converted his own try to make the score 34 v 7 to the Tokyo Gaijin RFC.

Just three minutes later Shinjuku Jacks responded with their own 5 pointer after their forwards trapped Gaiijin halfback Eamonn Murphy with the ball and pushed him back 15 metres, and then earnt a penalty at the ruck. Gaijin hooker Liam Ramshaw bought a big dummy as he raced across in cover defense and Shinjuku Jacks managed to score under the posts. With the successful conversion they were behind 34 v 14.

In the 8th minute, with captain Apisai Bati waiting to re-enter the contest, vice captain Eamonn Murphy was involved in a bit of push and shove with the Shinjuku Jacks No.8. He responded by throwing the ball at the player but it could easily have been targetted at the referee as it went very close to the man with the whistle. Murphy was shown the red card and the Gaijin would be finishing the match with 14 men. The Shinjuku Jacks No.8 was not even cautioned despite playing a big part in both incidents that led to cards against Gaijin players.

In the 54th minute of the match the ball was swung wide by the Shinjuku Jacks and Gaijin winger Wataru Sato was beaten for pace by his opposite as the Jacks clawed their way back into the game at 34 v 21 after a further successful conversion..

The Gaijin gave themselves a little breathing space in the 62nd minute from a strong scrum. The ball was swung to the left and Takuya Ichizono went over to score after good involvement from fullback Toshinori Minamidate. Guille Alonso missed the conversion to leave the score at 39 v 21 in favour of the Gaijin..

It was all Shinjuku Jacks from then on as they came home to finish the contest strongly with three tries. They exploited the one man advantage by kicking deeply for the corners and running blind whenever they had the chance.

The first of these tries came after their No.8 went to a wide blind from a scrum, drew the final defender and gave his winger a free run to the line. The conversion made it 39 v 28.

They continued to pull back the deficit when a string of penalties allowed them to power over again against a flagging Gaijin outfit. They missed this conversion meaning they would have to score a converted try to win. Score: 39 v 33.

They got the try soon after when they went blindside again from a scrum with their  No.8 involved again. Unfortunately for them, they were unable to convert from the wide angle and the Gaijin held on to win 39 v 38.

Halfback Eamonn Murphy had a good game scoring two tries but faces a stint on the sideline after receiving a red card and will have a one match ban. Guille Alonso was named Man of the Match after an excellent perfformance in the centres.

The Gaijin had the advantage at scrum time and their dominance enabled them to set a good platform for their backs. They also dictated the line outs with the Jacks being their own worst enemy with countless 'not straight' calls against their thrower. allowing the Gaijin to get out of trouble on a few occasions.

It was certainly a match of two contrasting halves with the Gaijin dominating the first and then the Shinjuku Jacks coming back strongly in the second half. Apart from the two cards the Gaijin were guilty of too many indiscretions and were getting on the bad side of the referee in the second half. The wind also favored the Jacks in the second half as they came home with a strong sail but the Gaijin had had that advantage in the first half.

SCORE: TGRFC 39 (Eamonn Murphy 2, Takuya Ichizono 2, Takashi Tanikawa 1, Wataru Sato 1,  Guille Alonso 1 tries; S. Kaneko 0/2 , G. Alonso 2 /5) Shinjuku Jacks 38 (6 tries, 4/6 conversions)

Man of the Match: Guille Alonso

Goat(s) of the Match: Eamonn Murphy & Apisai Bati

TEAM:

1. Tommy Nasuno (Japan)

2. Liam Ramshaw (England)

3. Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan)

4. Jesse Takahashi (USA)

5, Lachlan Ainley (Australia)

6. Apisai Bati (C) (Fiji)

7. Paul Bertier (France)

8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)

9. Eamonn Murphy (vc) (Ireland)

10. Sota Kaneko (Japan)

11. Takuya Ichizono (Japan)

12. Guille Alonso (Spain)

13. Alex Moule (England)

14. Wataru Sato (Japan)

15. Toshihiro Minamidate (Japan)

Reserves: (16) Kosuke Yamamoto (Japan), (17) Jone Tora (Fiji), (18) Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan), (19)  Gorka Gerediaga (Basque), (20) Joffa Harris (Australia), (21) Glen Amos (England), (22) Jo Iwasaki (Japan), (23) Akira Yamagen (Japan)