Dateline: September 13th, 2015

Four tries from enigmatic Fijian flanker Apisai Bati helped the Tokyo Gaijin RFC to a comfortable win over Shinjuku Jacks RFC in the first round of  the Shuto League. The captain of the Tokyo Gaijin RFC and top tryscorer for 2014 is heading up the list again as the 45 year old goes from strength to strength.

The scoring for the Tokyo Gaijin RFC started early when Bati crashed over the tryline near the right corner in the first minute after strong runs from prop Ken Noguchi and lock Touch Roy. Dan Benton missed the wide conversion attempt leaving the score at 5 v 0 as the clock ticked over to the two minute mark.

The second try came at the 5 minute mark with Bati scrambling over the line in the right corner again. Once again prop Noguchi was heavily involved with two strong charges in the lead up. Benton again failed with the conversion from the right touch line. Score: 10 v 0 to the Gaijin.

At the 10 minute mark the Gaijin increased their lead.after a period of loose rugby. It was Takuya Ichizono who ran across the line, out on the right again, but managed to run all the way around to the posts to score under the black dot. Dan Benton, who obviously didn't bring his kicking boots today, failed with the conversion from in front. The scoreline now read 15 v 0 to the Gaijin.

In the 13th minute the Jacks reversed all the one way traffic after some feeble defense from the Gaijin, scoring to the right of the posts and nailing the conversion to make the score a more respactable 15 v 7.

The Gaijin soon increased their lead through winger Nathan Corrie, getting his first try for the Gaijin in his first game of 15's for the club, having only played 7's and 10's since joining late in the Spring season. Takashi Tanikawa had almost gone over the line himself but for a desperate tackle around the ankles stopping him a couple of metres short. He managed to throw a pass, albeit, along the ground, to Bati, who held the defense back but couldn't go foward. He managed to slip the ball to the unmarked Corrie who strolled across the line - in that right corner again. Alex Moule took over the kicking duties but also failed with the conversion from the right touchline. Score: 20 v 7 to the Gaijin.

Soon after it looked like Toshinori Minamidate, or one of the supporters looming up on the inside, would score after some good inter-passing saw the Gaijin break out from a lineout 5 metres out from their own line. Minamidate decided to take on the defense on the outside, but a very good tackle from the Jack's fullback took him into touch 10 metres inside Jack's half and the chance was gone.

In the 20th minute the game went to no-push scrums as the Shinjuku Jacks were struggling for competent front row members. This took away a Gaijin strong point.

In the 26th minute the Shinjuku Jacks scored from a scrum about 10 meters out. It was a simple pick and go from their Number 8 and he just had to bash through the backline defense on the tryline. Gaijin flanker, Jeremy Burns, was too slow to react but  he can be excused as he has played less than a handful of games of rugby. He'll learn from that one. After the unsuccessful conversion the score was 20 v 12 to the Gaijin.

In the 31st minute Alex Moule ran in to score after nice linking from Toshinori Minamidate and Takuya Ichizono had the defense scrambling. Moule converted his own try to make the score 27 v 12.

Nathan Corrie almost scored his second just before halftime after more :excellent inter-passsing from his team mates but the last pass was adjudged to be forward and the try was not given.

In the halftime huddle the Gaijin players agreed that they had to improve their tackling and speed to the breakdown. Because the game was a very open affair with lots of running and inter-passing, the Gaijin had got sloppy with defense, as often happens in this type of game. In the first try against them there were 5 missed tackles.

Just three replacements were made with Emilio Herrero, a guest player from Spain, joining the battle at prop, along with Ryo Takahashi (wing) and Testuharu Kumagai (flanker).

15 minutes into the second half  Apisai Bati completed his hattrick and fellow Fijian Mosese Rarasea, who had only just joined the game, converted to extend the lead to 34 v 12.

The scoring for the Gaijin continued when Ryo Takahsahi raced away for a try after good backline offloads. Rarasea missed the conversion. Score: 39 v 12 to the Gaijin.

Rarasea came up with the next when he "bellied" his way over the tryline from a 5 metre penalty tap. Once again he was not able to convert from slightly further out than midway between posts and sideline. Score: 44 v 12 to the Gaijin.

In the 67th minute Bati wrapped up the scoring with his 4th try. Rarasea added the two points with a successful conversion. Final Score: 51 v 12.

The halves were only 35 minutes long so the game was soon up. The Gaijin won convincingly but there would be a few worrying aspects of their win to mull over. They gave away far too many ruck penalties and were caught numerous times holding onto the ball in the tackle when they should have been releasing. The forwards will need to work harder to get to the ruck quicker against better opposition. Defense was also poor at times and they need to work just as hard at this as wanting to run the ball.

Kicking at goal was also quite poor with the Gaijin leaving 12 points out on the field from 6 missed conversions. Quite a few of the tries were scored out wide but a few of the missed goals were certainly gettable.

In the forwards Ken Noguchi and Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka made a lot of strong runs into the defensive wall and Takashi Tanikawa was his usual busy self. Apisai Bati was at times sublime with the ball in hand and led his team from the front. It was pleasing to see Gaz Dalrymple out on the field again after a one year break and he did well at hooker.

In the backs Toshinori Minamidate was solid at fullback and made numerous breaks. Dan Benson, in his first game after months travelling, was solid as a rock in defense and ran strongly. Usual centre or wing, Alex Moule, playing his first game at standoff for the Gaijin, was instrumental in many breaks and led his backs superbly and was the offical Man of the Match.

All members got onto the field which was pleasing. In fact little halfback Ryogo Takemura even took the field as a lock in the second half, due to the no-push scrums and three halfbacks in attendance for the Gaijin. The game also saw the debut of Taku Eguchi, in Japan for a short stint from South Africa.

Emilio Herrero was taken off the field with what looked like a serious injury midway through the second half. The team wishes him a speedy recovery and a safe flight back to Spain.

SCORE: TGRFC 51 (Apisai Bati 4, Takuya Ichizono 1, Nathan Corrie 1, Alex Moule 1, Mosese Rarasea 1, Ryo Takahashi 1 tries; D. Benton 0/3, A. Moule 1/2, M. Rarasea 2/4 conversions) Shinjuku Jacks 12 (2 tries; 1/2 conversions)

Man of the Match: Alex Moule

Goat of the Match: Mosese Rarasea

TEAM:

1. Ken Noguchi (Japan)

2. Gaz Dalrymple (Scotland)

3. Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan)

4. Touch Roy (Australia)

5. Dan Barnett (England)

6. Apisai Bati (c) (Fiji)

7. Jeremy Burns (USA)

8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)

9. Eamonn Murphy (vc) (Ireland)

10. Alex Moule (England)

11. Yoshihiro Sato (Japan)

12. Dan Benson (USA)

13. Takuya Ichizono (Japan)

14. Nathan Corrie (Fiji)

15. Toshinori Minamidate (Japan)

16. Emilio Herrero (Spain), 17. Natsu Kunitomo (Japan), 18. Joffa Harris (Australia), 19. Tetsuharu Kumagai (Japan), 20. Mosese Rarasea (Fiji), 21. Takashi Muto (Japan), 22, Ryogo Takemura (Japan), 23. Taku Eguchi (South Africa), 24. Yuki Matsuyura (Japan), 25. Jo Iwasaki (Japan), 26. Ryo Takahashi (Japan) 27. Sota Kaneko (Japan)