Timeline: November 8th, 2015
A wet and misty Inagi Stadium hosted a physical clash betweeen Tokyo Gaijin RFC and Tokyo Crusaders RFC in the 4th round of the 2015 Shuto League. At the final whistle the triumphant Gaijin emerged two tries ahead of a gallant Cru that, apart from a disallowed try, failed to put points on the board.
The Gaijin started without their injured skipper Apisai Bati but thanks to strong early scrummaging secured a penalty and a scorching try under the posts from outside centre Takuya Ichizono - grabbing five points in as many minutes followed by a successful conversion from fullback Harry Bucknell. Unfortunately poor tackling and a sturdy Crusaders response had the Gaijin doggedly defending their own try line before the ten minute mark. A convincing turnover allowed the Gaijin to clear their lines, and minutes later silver-heeled winger Jaimeson Musich left the Crusaders backline foundering before a spectacular slip saw him losing his feet and the ball after crossing the try-line, so his 75 metre run yielded nothing. Gaijin woes were compounded with lock Gorka Gerediaga taking a turn in the 'naughty seat' for a ruck clearance adjudged dangerous by the referee.
The remainder of the first half yielded opportunities to both teams and a disallowed try to the Crusaders after they had crossed the line but stpped over the ridiculously short dead ball line. However it was growing Gaijin forward dominace and a charge form Taichi Nakajima that handed Harry Bucknell a penalty kick to put the Gaijin ten points ahead at the break.
At halftime Nathan Corrie came on for Jaimeson Musich but an indecisive start saw the three-quarters starved of opportunities as both teams opted for tight solutions to increasingly wet conditions. Twenty minutes in and big Joe Nawaqavanua won a turnover that would allow a rampant Takashi Tanikawa to pick up and go from the scrum base. This unleashed winger Jay Leroy for a searing run that set the scene for the Gaijin back line to briefly re-enter the play making. At this point a Gaijin re-shuffle saw the hard-working Liam Ramshaw, Dan Benson and Taichi Nakajima replaced by the fresh legs of Tommy Nasuno, Mosese Rarasea and Jeremy Burns. Moments later big Jow Nawaqavanua crashed over for a try from a tapped penalty and Harry Bucknell's touchline conversion would give th Gaijin their full 17 point tally for the match.
To thier credit an embattled Crusaders refused to concede defeat forcing the Gaijin to defend their try line right up to the final whistle. The Gaijin made four more changes with Glen Amos for Takashi Tanikawa, Takeo Honda for Don Tanaka, Michael Van der Lans for John Simpson and Ryogo Takemura replacing acting skipper Eamonn Murphy. A missed penalty kick from the Crusaders brought the day to a close.
No doubt the game entertained neutrals, exhausted players and excited family members, but management from both teams will have a 'to do' list : the Crusaders to turn pressure into points and the Gaijin to plug the defensive leaks which kept their opposition in the game.
SCORE : TGRFC 17 (Takuya Ichizono 1, Joe Nawaqavanua 1 tries, Harry Bucknell 2/2 conversions, 1/1 penalties) Tokyo Crusaders 0
Man Of the Match:
Goat of the Match:
1. Tomo Setoguchi (Japan)
2. Liam ramshaw (England)
3. Tsuanki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan)
4. John Simpson (USA)
5. Gorka Gerdiaga (Basque)
6. Joe Nawaqavanua (Fiji)
7. Taichi Nakajima (Japan)
8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
9. Eamonn Murphy (C) (Ireland)
10. Toshihiro Minamidate (Japan)
11. Jaimeson Musich (USA)
12. Dan Benson (USA)
13. Takyua Ichizono (Japan)
14. Jay Leroy (Canada)
15. Harry Bucknell (England)
Reserves: 16. Takeo Honda (Japan), 17. Tommy Nasuno (Japan), 18. Michael Van der Lans (Netherlands), 19. Jeremy Burns (USA), 20, Glen Amos (England), 21, Mosese Rarasea (Fiji), 22. Ryogo Takemura (Japan), 23. Nathan Corrie (Fiji)