Dateline 2nd Feburary, 2016

Despite fears of cancellation due to a weather warning, bright sunlight was the only element flooding Edogawa’s number 3 ground yesterday as Tokyo Gaijin romped away to a 60-12 victory against Chiba’s Akanehama.  And yet, the score masked an uneven perfomance by the Gaijin with strengths consolidated, while problem areas remained unsolved.
 
Following the 12:30 kick-off the Gaijin’s early pressure up front saw left wing Takuya Ichizono go over for 5 points after a mere 3 minutes.  Unfortunately, 3 minutes more would see a runaway Akanehama forward pounce from an unguarded ruck to level the scores and thus set the tone for a scrappy first half.  Nevertheless the remainder of the half would see the Gaijin establish a 29-12 buffer due in part to a dominant scrum and also thanks to a father and son try fest with captain Apisai Bati scoring one converted try and Appisai Bati junior scoring 3 of his eventual five tries. 
 
Akanehama’s dogged resistance dampened premature celebrations however, and resulted in their second try, this time by tight-head prop and opposition man of the match Takahiro Higuchi.  As Mr. Kaneda of the Kanto Refereeing Commitee blew for half time the mood in the Gaijin camp was cautiously optimistic with senior players drawing attention to poor tackling and panicky decision making by forwards and backs alike.
 
Throughout the second half the Gaijin scrum tightened the screw on Akanehama, although due to the team’s acceptance of this weakpoint their number 8 showed an uncanny ability to clear the ball in retreat.  This gave their fly-half and captain Seigo Sato ample opportunity to run the ball, but with Gaijin man of the match Sovita Tui having a big game in defence Akanehama found themselves with few places to run.
 
When the floodgates opened a further 5 Gaijin players would join Apisai Bati junior in the try scoring.  The backs were Alex Moule, Sovita Tui and Futoshi Karino.  In the forwards Paul ‘Swan dive’ Bertier and Gorka Gerediaga would complete the list, and as the game drew to a close a valiant Akanehama had less and less to give conceding the last two tries in the final four minutes.  The really dark cloud to be seen in the blue skies of Edogawa was ample evidence of poor Gaijin kick off receptions (not least by your correspondent), with line-out inconsistencies best blamed on the wind.
 
Substitutions played a part in the game with Akira Yamagen and Yoshihiro Sato taking up duties among the three-quarters while Taku Eguchi added a spell as flanker to his honours.  One honour that Mr. Eguchi may have wished to decline was the good-natured ‘Goat of the game’ award for a handling error in front of a beckoning try line.  This is also the place to mention that Gaijin man of the match Sovita Tui even managed a spell in the second row before the close of action – no doubt impressing the voters among the opposition.  
 
Final Score:
   Gaijin 70 (12 tries, 5 conversions) - Akanehama  12 (2 tries, 1 conversion)
 
Starting XV:
  1. Kosuke Yamamoto  (Japan)
  2. Tomohiro Setoguchi  (Japan)
  3. Gorka Gerediaga  (Basque)
  4. Natsuhiko Kunitomo  (Japan)
  5. Dan Barnett  (England)
  6. Apisai Bati (C) (Fiji )
  7. Paul Bertier  (France)
  8. Joffa Harris  (Australia)
  9. Kenta Karino  (Japan)
  10. Sota Kaneko  (Japan)
  11. Takuya Ichizono  (Japan)
  12. Sovita Tui  (Fiji)
  13. Alex Moule  (England)
  14. Futoshi Karino  (Japan)
  15. Apisai Bati Junior (Fiji)
 
Bench:
  • Taku Eguchi - (on for Bati and perhaps elsewhere)
  • Akira Yamagen - for wing and full-back.  (may have kicked some conversions but no record)
  • Yoshihiro Sato - wing (after 30 mins)