Dateline: 18th October, 2015
With the Shuto League in full swing, the Tokyo Gaijin RFC played a 'Friendly' match against Nerima RFC in order to get some valuable game time for the newer members of the club that have failed to get much game time during the competition games.. Not much is known about Nerima RFC. It seems they are a team of Army players and are looking to enter the Shuto League, hence their interest in a 'friendly' game against the TGRFC.....to check out the level of competition.
The Gaijin started the game with a very 'green' forward pack with starting debuts for locks Marian Marx and Pater Sclare and also for flanker Boris Gombeer. It was Marian Marx's first game of rugby ever after playing American Football in his past. Prop Takeo Kondo was also having his first game back in Japan after a year in Sydney, Australia.
The game didn't start too well for the Gaijin when the kickoff was dropped by one of the new boys and the first line-out was also lost. The intensity ws there though, as Fijian centre Sovita Tui pulled off a big hit early and halfback Max Manson came off early with blood streaming down his face (He went back on bandaged up like an Anzac Digger fresh from th trenches but required 5 stitches in a cut over his left eye later).
Nerima RFC had all the early running as the 'experimental' Gaijin forward pack struggled to gel together. They got the first try of the match in the 13th minute after a kick-through was touched by the Gaijin putting all the attackers on side. Gaijin front rower Tommy Nasuno stumbled in his attempt to recover the ball and had a few goes at picking it up but it was eventually dived on by a Nerima player under the posts and with the conversion they led 7 v 0.
In the 18th minute, the Gaijin were on the attack just outside the Nerima 22 metre area after a few good runs. Natsu Kunitomo was brought down by the defense, and either a sloppy placement or poor protection by his fellow forwards led to the ball being kicked through and then the chaser managed to kick it again and won the race to the ball and scored under the black dot. The successful conversion gave Nerima RFC a 14 v 0 lead.
In the 24th minute Sovita Tui reversed the trend when he made a strong 40 metre run, breaking through the defense, to score under the posts. The conversion was successful and the score of 14 v 7 to Nerima RFC stayed this way until halftime.
Note: The halves were only 25 minutes long with a 20 minute third half.
The Gaijin brought on some of the more experienced 'heavy artillery' in the forwards for the second half with all forward reserves entering the game. along with two new backline members in EamonnMurphy and Mosese Rarasea.
Rarasea kicked off the second half and went deep but it all went wrong and the players had to come back to halfway for a scrum.
The first 5 minutes of the second half were very frantic but the Gaijin were physically assertive. They had good possession but were stuck in their own half due to a combination of good defense and poor choices or handiwork.
Some powerful charges by Mosese Rarasea and Joffa Harris gained the Gaijin some momentum and eventually saw Apisai Bati score under the posts and Rarasea was untroubled with the conversion to make the score 14 v 14.
Gaijin centre Sovita Tui made a strong 30 metre run 10 minutes into the half but was stopped 5 metres short of the tryline and Nerima cleared their line with a relieving penalty soon after..
At the 15 minuute mark of the half, after 10+ phases, captain Apisai Bati made a good run but was finally stopped by the defense in the right corner. From the ensuing ruck Joffa Harris dived over the line but the pass from Nik Pavesic was deemed to be forward by the referee,
Joffa Harris was over again soon after from a 5 metre scrum as the Nerima halfback failed to control the ball at the back. But once again the try was not given as the referee penalised the Gaijin halfback Eamonn Murphy for being over-zealous in playing his opposite number at the back of the scrum.
Nerima managed to clear their line again with the penalty but the Gaijin came straight back at them. They looked likely to break the deadlock with continual phases inside the Nerima 22 but Gorka Gerediaga knocked on with the line three metres away and the chance was gone.
The scrum win and a string of penalties allowed Nerima to get into the Gaijin half but the Gaijin managed to repel the attack. A turnover by Nic Pavesic and another strong crash by Joffa Harris had the Gaijin on the attack again but it fizzled out with further handling errors and committed Nerima defense.
The final minutes of the half were very physical but it was an indecisive period. The first 50 minutes was done and dusted and the final score was 14 v 14, which was a fair reflection of the game with Nerima RFC dominating the first half and the Gaijin dominating the second. The Gaijin probably left some points out on the field with panic play close to the Nerima line when cool heads were required.
One more "half" of twenty minutes was played with some of the Gaijin's newer members playing for Nerima RFC as they were short on reserves.
This proved to be a walk in the park for the Gaijin as they scored multiple tries to run away with the match. Takashi Tanikawa got the first try, and Apisai Bati added 2 more to his frist half try. Nathan Corrie and 'Don' Tanaka also joined the tryscoring list.
I would take the official score as 14 v 14 as the thrid 'half' was basically a practice match for the new guys along with some tiring Nerma players. Two well taken tries by Fijians Apisai Bati and Sovita Tui were not enough for the Gaijin to overcome the tenacious defense of the Nerima club. Nerima RFC would certainly be a good addition to the Shuto league and would provide a good challenge to all the existing teams in the top tier of the competition.
For the Gaijin the first half forwards got a lot of experience but it was the second half forwards that got the gaijin rolling and were well led by captain Apisai Bati, John Simpson and Nic Pavesic. Harry Bucknell was the standout back and was prominent in both attack and defense.
SCORE: TGRFC 45 (Apisai Bati 3, Sovita Tui 1, Takashi Tanikawa 1, Nathan Corrie 1, Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka 1 tries; conversion 5/ 7) Nerima RFC (2 tries, 2/2 conversions)
Man of the Match: John Simpson???? Jeremy Burns????
1. Takeo Kondo (Japan)
2. Tommy Nasuno (Japan)
3. Natsu Kunitomo (Japan)
4. Marian Marx (Germany)
5. Peter Sclare (Scotland)
6. Boris Gombeer (France)
7. Jeremy Burns (USA)
8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
9. Max Manson (NZ)
10. Harry Bucknell (England)
11. Nathan Corrie (Fiji)
12. Sovita Tui (Fiji)
13. Taku Eguchi (South Africa)
14. Yuki Matsuyuru (Japan)
15. Toshinori Minamidate (Japan)
16. Gorka Gerediaga (Basque) 17. Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan). 18. Nic Pavesic (Croatia). 19. John Simpson (USA). 20. Joffa Harris (Australia). 21. Apisai Bati (C) (Fiji) 22. Eamonn Murphy (vc) (Ireland). (23) Mosese Rarasea (Fiji), (24) Jaimeson Musich (USA)