Tokyo Gaijin 60 Mokkos 0
Mokkos - Could it really be?
The very thought of tattoed Maori Warriors made the blood boil in our veins, never mind the balmy 33 degrees Celcius temperatures that were to aid us in our warm up. Whilst the opposition were not the tribal Zeus`s we were preparing for, they were mature-looking (old), experienced (past-it), enthusiasic (didn't stand a chance) and clearly a well-drilled (not so well-drilled) team.
An exciting game of Paper, Rock, Scissors was to take place after the formalities from the referee. Given our relative lack of knowledge of the intricacies of rugby we appreciated the talk. The lovely man in tight blue shorts and a delightful off-white cotton sweater explained that rugby is a game played by two opposing teams in which an oval shaped ball is propelled towards a defined point to score points for your group. Thanks Ref, we weren`t aware, can we just get on with it.
Back to the janken. Some dangerous looking scissors were blunted by a very sharp rock and it was decided that the Tokyo Gaijin RFC would be playing into the sun and a light zephyr (that's a wind - ed.) that was moving through the picturesque Kanto plain.
After some much needed pre-match talk of how fearful the opposition looked, and how our team had best be careful we were not disappointed.
A good start by the tight forwards (Takayuki, Yukio, Mark, Shaunne and Jessie) saw us steal ball early at will. This was further made possible by strong work from the loose forwards around the rucks and mauls by the ever reliable Dave Kelver, and the imposing-looking combination of new acquisition Sean O`Donoghue and club stalwart Joffa `pigs arse` Harris.
This solid platform up front led to the first try of the match. Turnover ball from a loose lineout was swung into the centres with the oppostion defence regrouping. Our good centre combination of Jo Iwasaki and Niall Conlon, who create their gaps by steamrolling opposing centres, linked for the first try dotted down by Jo Iwasaki.
The quick ball being made available by the forwards helped with enhancing the new inside backs relationship being developed by Alistair Nimmo and the stand-up, stand-in, stand-off Takashi Mutou. He also slotted the conversion from close range for an early 7 - 0 lead.
Niall Conlon had easily his best display in an illustrious career with the TGRFC and was quite dynamic to watch. He bust through more defensive walls than Hurricane Katrina and had more stopping power than a Baghdad car bomb.
On the flanks some flourishing team attacks were just being snuffed out by some creditable defense by the Mokkos team. Steve Bull and Jonathan Dean were working hard without reward and were keeping alive some sweeping team drives. This was also providing space for Captain Blake Walker to shimmy into the backline on occasion and provide a link or a distraction on which to base further attacks.
The team never really hit full stride due in large part to the gutsy oppostion in the face of diversity and a tiring spell of weather, that impacts in the only way playing late summer rugby in this part of the world can. The 60 - 0 scoreline slightly flattered the team as we only strung together short spells of good rugby, and huge kudos must be given to the Mokkos team who never stopped trying and battered us close to the line a number of times midway through the second spell, all to no avail.
Unfortunately the most memorable battering (for some at least) came courtesy of 2 TGRFC players. After good work by Shaunne Hughes to retreat and pick up a chip kick behind the defensive line, he fed off to a barreling Walker coming up the middle on counter. The ensuing collision saw Hughes suffer a heavy knock and a necessary spell on the sidelines. During the calamity he misplaced his mouth-guard. He worked tirelessly to relocate the mouthguard coming back onto the field a number of times during the game and mumbling barely legible sentences. Some great detective work meant that it was found in the hands of the person whom Shaunne had given it to in his dazed state.
Other memorable moments included a Dave Kelver tackle on what would have been a try-scoring intercept. He made a bee line for the player and after a huge tackle managed to turn over the ball after that sorry attacker had failed to release. Also a scything run by replacement Chris Lucas midway through the second spell stood out. Moving briskly through a number of opposition tacklers he failed to be taken down. It is believed that some of the would-be tacklers who had earlier missed got up and had another attempt only to fail again on the second occasion. He is deceptively fast - actually slower than he looks.
Commendations to Jo Iwasaki, Dave Kelver and Sean O`Donoghue who all bagged deuces for the match.
Man of the Match: Niall Conlon
Goat of the Match: Shaunne Hughes
Final Score: 60 ? 0 ( Sean O`Donoghue 2, Dave Kelver 2, Jo Iwasaki 2, Joffa Harris 1, Yukio Suyama 1, Steve Bull 1, Tomohiro 1, Takashi Mutou 3 goals, Tomohiro 2 goals)
1, Mark Pearson (USA)
2. Yukio Suyama (Japan)
3. Takayuki Kitajima (Japan)
4.Shaunne Hughes (Australia)
5. Jessie Takashahi (USA)
6. Dave Kelver (USA)
7. Sean O`Donoghue (Ireland)
8. Joffa Harris (Australia)
9, Alistair Nimmo (England)
10. Takashi Mutou (Japan)
11. Takeshi Takada (Japan)
12. Niall Conlon (England)
13. Jo Iwasaki (Japan)
14. Steve Bull (England)
15. Blake Walker