Timeline: 23rd October, 2016
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC were aiming to keep up their winning run in the third round of the Shuto League against Kichioji Wild Turkeys at Katsushika Sogo Sports Center and send off Stanley Henry with a victory in his final game before heading back to Australia (he's actually a KIWI though). Not only did the victory follow but Henry scored two tries to add to his memories of Japan.
The Gaijin started the match positively and some early breaks had some thinking they might win in a canter. The first try came quite early with the Gaijin rolling 20 metres from a lineout maul. Joffa Harris almost fell out of the maul and rolled towards the line but he was short. Henry was 'Johnny on the spot' to pick it up and dive over. Henry: Try 1 and Score: 5 v 0 to the Gaijin.
Fellow Kiwi Alexander Auldy was heavily involved in the next try when he broke two tackles and then managed to offload. One further pass and Yoshihiro Iyadomi showed some good pace to race over the line and score. Watson failed with the conversion again. Score: 10 v 0 to TGRFC.
This is when the Wild Turkeys started to show that the game would not be a canter. With some clever kicking from hand they constantly had the Gaijin guessing where the next point of attack would come from. Joffa Harris knocked on a long pass in the centre of the field and from the following scrum the Wild Turkeys centre kicked the ball. They were able to recover it and found some space and outpaced the defense to the line. Costly mistake Joffa! Score: 10 v 7 to TGRFC.
Kichioji equalised on the scoreboard soon after when Joffa Harris was penalised for a high tackle about 5 metres out from his own line and they stepped up to knock over the 3 points. Score : 10 v 10.
After a messy few minutes the Gaijin blitzed the Wild Turkeys scrum about 10 minutes out from the Turkeys line and gained a penalty. Captain Apisai Bati took a quick tap and caught the defense half asleep and powered through three players to crash over and score. Watson failed to add the extra two. Score: 15 v 10 to TGRFC.
The Gaijin were hot on attack soon after, but Alexander Auldy was crunched in a tackle and lost the ball. Auldy was taken off with concussion after his head had hit the hard astro-turf surface. Sovita Tui joined the game in his place.
The Gaijin managed one more try before halftime with Jeremy Burns holding up a nice pass to Futoshi Karino. Karino found space around his opposite number and raced away to score. Watson again missed the conversion. Score: 20 v 10 to the TGRFC.
Various changes were made at halftime as the Gaijin had a big bench and the Shuto League rules allow more then the regular 23 players. The Gaijin felt a win was a strong possibility if they kept playing the way they were and tightened up the midfield defense. They would also need to be more on their toes to counter the Kichioji Wild Turkeys kicking game which was very inventive. The Wild Turkeys had kicked to both sides of the field from kickoffs and the shallow ones had caused the Gaijin numerous problems. They also mixed up their kicking from hand with cross-field kicks, kicks in behind, and bombs.
Rap Pagai, who had joined the game at halftime, scored the first try of the second half. After the forwards worked their pods and loosened up the defense, a wide throw to Pagai saw him break a tackle and juke a defender to go over. Watson again failed to convert. Score : 25 v 10 to the TGRFC.
The Wild Turkeys then seized back the momentum and with the Gaijin on their heels after a few good runs and pirouettes the Turkeys No.8 crashed over in a double tackle to score. They also added the two points for the conversion. Score: 25 v 17.
The Gaijin hit straight back with a good charge by Baz Lobendahn and then Liam Ramshaw chewed off 40 metres but the inevitable mistake would come. Then a relieving penalty would allow the Wild Turkeys to momentarily get out of their 22 metre area. In a brain explosion Futoshi Karino tackled the man who took the quick tap from behind and was sent to the sinbin.
Constant pressure and a string of penalties kept the Gaijin camped in the Wild Turkeys 22 metre area and they finally broke the defense with Baz Lobendahn crashing over in the tackle. Paddy Watson finally nailed a conversion to make the score 32 v 17.
A good run from Chris Musgrave soon after, looked promising as he chewed off 30 metres, but a poor final pass meant it came to nothing.
Dropped passes and poor calls from both teams over the next 10 minutes made the game a bit of a comedy at times.
The Gaijin finished the stronger when they continously hammered away inside the Wild Turkeys 22 metre area but they were met with great tryline defense for a few minutes. Tommy Nasuno was held up over the tryline after a determined charge was met with equally determined defense. From the ensuing scrum Nasuno went close again and then Stanley Henry crashed over to wrap up the scoring. Henry : Try 2 and Score : 39 v 17 to the Gaijin.
In the end it was a clear-cut victory but the Gaijin had made too many mistakes and will need to work harder to minimise errors in the tougher games coming up. Stanley Henry was awarded Man of the Match for a non-stop effort in both attack and defense plus his two tries. Reserve forwards Barry Lobendahn and Liam Ramshaw added grit and good direct running in the second half and made many metres between them. Goat of the Game went to Futoshi Karino for his yellow card.
SCORE : TGRFC 39 (Stanley Henry 2, Yoshihiro Iyadomi 1, Apisai Bati 1, Futoshi Karino 1, Rap Pagai 1, Barry Lobendahn 1 tries; P. Watson 2/7 conversions) Kichioji Wild Turkeys 17 (2 tries, 2/2 conversions, 1/1 penalties)
Man of the Match : Stanley Henry
Goat of the game: Futoshi Karino (Yellow Card)
1. Tommy Nasuno (Japan)
2. Tomohiro Setoguchi (Japan)
3. Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan)
4. Stanley Henry (NZ)
5. Paul Bertier (France)
6. Apisai Bati (c) (Fiji)
7. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
8. Joffa Harris (Australia)
9. Sota Kaneko (Japan)
10. Paddy Watson (Canada)
11. Futoshi Karino (Japan)
12. Alexander Auldy (NZ)
13. Hitoshi Chihara (Japan)
14. Yoshihiro Iyadomi * (Japan)
15. Toshinori Minamidate (Japan)
Reserves: (16) Liam Ramshaw (England), (17) Natsuhiko Kunitomo (Japan), (18) Barry Lobendahn (Fiji), (19) John Simpson (USA), (20) Yusuke Hashimoto (Japan), (21) Chris Musgrave (Scotland), (22) Kenta Karino (Japan), (23) Rap Pagai (Samoa), (24) Yoshihiro Sato (Japan), (25) Sovita Tui (Fiji)
* Denotes first 15's game for the Gaijin. (though Iyadomi has played 10`s for the Gaijin)