Ichihara RFC 12 Tokyo Gaijin 27
The Gaijin were confirmed as unbeaten Ichihara League Champions with this hard-fought win over the battling Ichihara Club from Chiba. The Gaijin, on paper at least, had a good side out and the conditions were perfect on everyone's favourite concave pitch for some grandstand running rugby. Instead, the first five minutes were notable for Mark Pearson murdering his opposite number at the pit-head of the set scrums.
With Toro throwing in likes a darts star, the unusually stable set-piece platform meant that ace stand-off Ian Roy soon had the backs moving in the right direction. Niall Conlon battered up the middle safe in the knowledge he had Dave Kelver locked and loaded to clear out the rucks in support. The clean interplay between forwards and backs, with Joffa Harris and Jonathan Dean also prominent, soon had Ichihara flustered. A series of forced errors led to Shaunne Hughes, captain for the day, touching down for the first try.
Roy soon followed up with a try of his own after a typically opportunistic break from a quick tap-and-go, shrugging off several bemused tacklers to reach the line. A surprising show of power from such a stringy shadow of a man. It looked like turning into a cake-walk, but Ichihara weren?t for folding, and they fought back excellently as a unit, leaving the Gaijin feeding off scraps. Against the run of play another quick penalty led to quick hands from Roy and Beard to set Jyoh Iwasaki on a chase for the corner, which he made while handing off an opposition winger for most of the last ten metres. He doesn?t really hand them off, just grabs them and doesn?t let go until he makes it.
All this good work looked like being squandered after the break when a series of unnecessary penalties let Ichihara back into the game with a pair of well-worked tries out wide. However, with the physically imposing Iwasaki/Conlon axis putting in mighty hits in midfield, and Arnaud scrambling to clean up, morale was gradually restored. After some traditional Gaijin up-the-jumper happy camping on the Ichihara line, the squarely built Takayuki crashed over for a well-deserved try.
There was just time for Beard, back in the pocket behind a patched-up Takeshi Takeda, to pop over a sweet drop-goal to finish a job well done.
Man of the Match: 1. Ian Roy 2. Richard Beard 3.Shaunne Hughes
Goat of the Match: Toru Kanamori