Dateline: November 6th, 2016
The Tokyo Gaijin RFC were hoping to get back on track after losing their first Shuto League game last week against the Tokyo Crusaders leaving them with a three wins and one loss record. They were up against Koryo RFC who they had beaten 59 v 15 earlier in the year. BUT, today was a very different team on paper with some quality names missing. In the end Koryo RFC proved too good for a lacklustre Tokyo Gaijin RFC winning 36 v 5.
The Gaijin started strongly enough and were hot on the attack when the first of many simple mistakes came. From the ensuing scrum, Gaijin open-side flanker Yusuke Hashimoto completely missed his man and the Koryo number 8 raced upfield. He was eventually tackled about 10 metres out from the Gaijin tryline but a few phases later Koryo were celebrating the first try of the match. They failed with the conversion but they were away to a promising start. Score: 5 v 0 to Koryo RFC.
They would go on to score two more tries in the half with one successful conversion to lead 17 v 0 at halftime. The Gaijin looked stale and lethargic. Their tackling was weak and their attack constantly broke down through handling errors and lack of support players. Koryo, on the other hand, were obviously up for this game as they ran with gusto and were voracious at the breakdown. They were also loud and proud in their communication while the Gaijin were quiet and meek as mice. What was wrong with them this week? Things would have to change in the second half if they were to get back into this match.
Unfortunately there was more of the same in the second half. Koryo got two more tries before the Gaijin finally got on the scoreboard?
The Gaijin try came when they received a ruck penalty while on the attack in the Koryo 22 metre area. Yusuke Hashimoto took a quick tap and caught the defense asleep and ran 15 metres to score untouched to make up for his first half indiscretion in defense. Yamagen failed to convert but the Gaijin finally had a atry.
Koryo would score again before the match was over and finished 36 v 5 winners. It was a massive turn-around from the result earlier in the year but the insipid Gaijin performance didn't deserve any better. Tackling was atrocious at times for the Gaijin allowing the Koryo players to run at static defense and make good ground. At other times the Koryo players found holes in the defense far too easily.
The Gaijin didn't fair too much better with the ball in hand. Too many ball runners were caught with no support and when support did arrive they were often too slow and beaten to the ball by Koryo players. Handling was another major downfall with too many dropped passes and misdirected passes.
No Man of the Match was given as it was decided that everyone needed to take ownership of such a bad perfromance. In the forwards Big Fijian Barry Lobendahn trucked it up hard all day but was often well tackled around the legs. Jeremy Burns, after some 'droppsies' early, ran hard and made a few half breaks but once again, the Koryo defense was able to shut him down. Koryo's tackling on some of the bigger Gaijin runners was nice and low and allowed them to cut down this threat and also get over the top to win quick ruck ball. They worked hard for each other....something the Gaijin need to get back to doing.
The Gaijin welcomed back Eamonn Murphy for his first game this year after injury. While rusty, he still put in a solid performance. Joshua Bateson also had his first start for the Gaijin and showed a lot of promise. The Gaijin also missed the leadership of regular captain Apisai Bati, who started off the bench due to an injury niggle and did not come onto the field until the Gaijin were well and truly chasing the game. The Gaijin would also have to admit to missing Nik Pavesic, Gorka Gerediaga, Alex Auldy and Toshinori Minamidate.
It was also the last game in a short visit to Japan from Ivan Kansaki. We wish him well and hope to see him back again shortly.
SCORE : KORYO 36 (6 tries, 3/6 conversions) TGRFC 5 (Yususke Hashimoto 1 try; Yamagen 0/1 conversions))
Man of the Match : None given.
1. Tommy Nasuno (Japan)
2. Tomohiro Setoguchi (C) (Japan)
3. Tsunaki 'Don' Tanaka (Japan)
4. John Simpson (USA)
5. Barry Lobendahn (Fiji)
6. Joffa Harris (Australia)
7. Yusuke Hashimoto (Japan)
8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
9. Eamonn Murphy (Ireland)
10. Sota Kaneko (Japan)
11. Takuya Ichizono (Japan)
12. Hiroshi Chihara (Japan)
13. Jeremy Burns (USA)
14. Joshua Bateson * (England)
15. Yoshihiro Iyadomi (Japan)
Reserves: Liam Ramshaw (England), Ivan Kansaki (USA), Apisai Bati (Fiji), Akira Yamagen (Japan), Yoshihiro Sato (Japan)
* Denotes first start for TGRFC