Dateline: 11th September, 2016
After a tough but victorious warmup last weekend the Tokyo Gaijin RFC began their 2016 Shuto League campaign with a crushing 48 v 0 win over Olivers RFC. Olivers RFC played well but could not crack the blue defensive wall of the Gaijin. The Gaijin picked up all the bonus points on offer in the Shuto League gaining three bonus points (1 for four tries or more, 1 for holding the opposition to zero, and one for finishing more than three tries in front) as well as the four points for the victory to go to the top of the Shuto League ladder.
The Gaijin got out to an early lead after tries to Kenta Karino and Sota Kaneko with Futoshi Karino successful with the first conversion. Score 12 v 0 to the Gaijin.
Then Olivers RFC, who were keen to get some points on the board, had a penalty shot at goal from almost in front but missed.
Rap Pagai scored the third try of the match after consistent attack from the Gaijin wore the Olivers defense down. Pagai made up for an earlier try he had botched when white-line fever had taken over and he went for the try line and had the ball dislodged, with the Gaijin holding a three-man overlap.
Nic Pavesic got the fourth and final try of the half when Kenta Karino took a quick tap and passed it to Pavesic who caught the defense napping and charged over the line untouched. Futoshi Karino failed with the conversion as he had done with the previous try.
The half time score was 22 v 0 in favour of the Gaijin, leaving the team upbeat about a comfortable victory if they just stayed the course and continued with the same style of play.
Two changes were made at halftime with Ryo Takahashi coming on for Hitoshi Chihara and Takashi Tanikawa replacing Joffa Harris.
One minute into the second half the Gaijin showed their intent when quick hands along the backline ended with winger Ryo Takahashi, who had just joined the game at halftime. He cut back in-field and went straight through the defense and ran round to score under the posts. Futoshi Karino converted to make the score 29 v 0.
Mosese Nasegesege was the next try scorer after a nice break by Nik Pavesic. Pavesic then took a quick drop goal and converted to make the lead 36 v 0.
Soon after the Gaijin went close to scoring again after good interchanges between backs and forwards and quick ruck ball got them to within a few metres of the tryline. Halfback Kenta Karino then ran across field and managed to pick up a flying Nasegesege who ran across the tryline to score untouched for his second of the half. Yamagen stepped up to convert and put the Gaijin out to a big 43 v 0 lead.
The final try of the game went to new boy Ratu Baeta after some good crash and recycle by the forwards. It was a good reward for Baeta after 20 minutes of hard runninng rugby where he constantly beat the first tackle. Yamagen failed with this conversion but it didn't matter as the Gaijin had won easily to the tune of 48 v 0.
They say defense wins games and this was a good example of that cliche. The Gaijin gained confidence from their solid defensive line and this allowed them to attack with determination and spirit.
It was hard to fault any players effort on the day with Nikola Pavesic the standout pick as Man of the Match by both teams.
The referee was the best we've had for a long time but we may not see him again as apparently he was a visiting referee from Tochigi.
SCORE : TGRFC 48 (Mosese Nasegesege 2, Kenta Karino 1, Sota Kaneko 1, Rap Pagai 1, Nik Pavesic 1, Ryo Takahashi 1, Ratu Baeta 1 tries; F. Karino 2/5, N. Pavesic 1/1, Yamagen 1/2 conversions) OLIVERS RFC 0
Man of the Match : Nikola Pavesic
Goat of the Match: No goat as no obvious stuffups.
1. Gorka Gerediaga (Basque)
2. Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan)
3. Tsuanki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan)
4. John Simpson (USA)
5. Paul Bertier (France)
6. Stanley Henry (NZ)
7. Nikola Pavesic (Croatia)
8. Joffa Harris (Australia)
9. Sota Kaneko (Japan)
10. Kenta Karino (Japan)
11. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)
12. Rap Pagai (Samoa)
13. Alexander Auldy (NZ)
14. Futoshi Karino (Japan)
15. Toshinori Minamidate (Japan)
Reserves: (16) Natsuhiko Kunitomo (Japan), (17) Yusuke Hashimoto (Japan), (18) Takashi Tanikawa (Japan), (19) Ratu Baeta* (Samoa), (20) Mosese Nasegesege (Fiji), (21) Ryo Takahashi (Japan), (22) Taku Eguchi (South Africa), (23) Akira Yamagen (Japan)
* Denotes first game for the TGRFC.