Dasewa (Toshima League) 27 Tokyo Gaijin (Shuto League) 40
On 29th January, the Tokyo gaijin RFC gathered at Shinshibamata to play against Dasewa, the champions of the Toshima League. We were filling in for the Tokyo Crusaders as champions of the Shuto League. The Crusaders had a lot of their players in Bangkok for the Bangkok 10`s and as runaway winners of the second division in our first year in the Shuto League, we had the blessing of the League's higher powers to take their place.
It was a bitterly cold day ? one of the coldest of the year ? which had some players cursing the Crusaders for being in sunny Bangkok and the handful of die-hard fans pressed up against the only cover they could find to escape the biting wind. The Crusaders did have a token 3 guest players turn up ? Brendon O`Doherty, Richard Williams, and Masaki Wakai. O`Doherty had been a previous Captain of the Gaijin in a spell in Tokyo about 5 years ago before returning to Australia. On his return to Tokyo he went to the ?Dark Side?.
From the outset all could see that the whistle-happy referee didn`t like the Gaijin style of play and was handing out penalties from the get-go，mostly against the Gaijin (though from the sidelines one could say that both teams were equally guilty of hands in the ruck ? though I might be a little biased). Dasewa quickly showed they meant business with a try after 5 minutes but the failed conversion left the score at 5v0.
The Gaijin, realizing that the game could be gone before they ?turned on?, began to knuckle down. With a little more emphasis on getting to the breakdown quicker, they strung together a few multi-phased plays which led to Brendon O`Doherty scoring on the left side of the sticks. Being back in the Gaijin colours was obviously bringing out the best in him. He proceeded to convert the goal despite the stiff breeze and his old-school style ? digging a hole in the ground with his heel and propping the ball up on end in the small ditch created. Score: 7v5 to the Gaijin.
Dasewa were soon back on top with another try midway between the posts and the left sideline but failed to convert again. Score: 10v7 to Dasewa. With the brisk pace of the game up to now, newly elected Captain of the Gaijin,
Alaister Nimmo, was an early casualty with a severe case of the cramps. Tomohiro Nakayama was on long before he expected after a month out of the game. Richard Beard, playing at fullback, took over the rudderless ship and used all his years of experience to settle the team down.
Tomoaki continued the trend of scoring down the left after some great lead-up work. The backs worked left with Ian Roy and Tomohiro Nakayama prominent, and then the forwards were there for some quick ruck work, leaving Tomoaki to break a couple of tackles and storm over. O`Doherty failed to convert leaving the score at 12v10 to the Gaijin. This ended up being the half-time score in a very even contest so far.
O`Doherty, who was starting to find holes and break tackles, ended the tit-for-tat scoring after a strong break. He had split the defense near halfway and had options inside all the way in the form of ?Shadow? Roy but didn`t need any help as he scored under the posts. With O`Doherty being out of breath, Roy took over the kicking duties and duly converted leaving the score at 19v10 to the Gaijin.
O`Doherty was in again about a minute later when he took an intercept from almost the same place he had split the defense moments earlier and raced up-field, slowed, realized there was no support and that the opposition was chasing him and took off again to score under the posts. He converted the goal over a shell-shocked Dasewa team. Score: 26v10 to the Gaijin.
Dasewa knew they had to score next and after concerted pressure and a blatant forward pass (right in front of your scribe ? once again no bias here) they were over again just to the left of the posts. The conversion made the score 26v17 to the Gaijin. Soon after, the Dasewa Number 4 was yellow-carded after a fracas in the ruck. Your scribe does not know exactly why, but he can say it is a rare event for an opposition side to have a player sin-binned against the TGRFC.
This seemed to lift Dasewa and their players threw themselves at the Gaijin defense with renewed energy. They were rewarded with a try just to the left of the post (obviously their favorite side) but once again they failed to convert leaving the score at 26v22 to the Gaijin.
With the game into the final quarter and either side believing victory was possible, a huge run from big Rob Reinebach, who had had a strong second half, left only the fullback to beat. He passed it off to the looming Shaunne Hughes in support who raced the final 20 metres to score. As Hughes walked back to halfway he passed 4 players on the ground that had been swatted away by Reinebach during his awesome run. O`Doherty`s conversion made it 33v22 to the Gaijin.
Dasewa were not going to go down without a fight and pummeled upfield again, and after strong rucking and a string of penalties breached the Gaijin line again. Once again they were unable to convert leaving the score at 33v27. With time running out for Dasewa, Tomoaki put the final nail in the coffin with
a strong tackle-breaking run to score his second of the day. O`Doherty`s conversion made the final score 40v27.
It had been a topsy-turvy game between two ?Champion? teams but the Gaijin were the ones that would go onto the semi-finals of the Champions' Cup. Dasewa, as champions of the Toshima League, would have made their League proud with their never-say-die attitude.
Best for the Gaijin was O`Doherty with 3 tries and 4 goals to give him a personal haul of 23 points. It must have been the old TGRFC jumper that bought out the best in him. Tomoaki also had a powerful game at inside-centre and finished with two tries. Number 8, Reinebach, proved to be a big problem for the defense with his powerful charges and strong fend. Flankers, Richard Williams and Dave Kelver, were tireless at the rucks and mauls and Ian Roy, at the uncustomary position of outside centre, and Tomohiro Nakayama on the wings provided the pace out wide.
Score: TGRFC 40 (O`Doherty 3, Tomoaki 2, Hughes 1 tries, O`Doherty 4/5 goals, Roy 1/1 goal) Dasewa 27 (5 tries, 1/5 goals).
Man of the Match: 1.Brendon O`Doherty
1. Jesse Takahashi (USA)
2. Jo Iwasaki (Japan)
3. Takayuki Kitajima (Japan)
4. Chris Lucas (Australia)
5. Shaunne Hughes (Australia)
6. Richard Williams (England)
7. Dave Kelver (USA)
8. Rob Reinebach (USA)
9. Alaister Nimmo (England)
10. Brendon O`Doherty (Australia)
11. So Nagashima (Japan)
12. Tomoaki (Japan)
13. Ian Roy (England)
14. Ryoichi Matsumura (Japan)
15. Richard Beard (England)
16. Masaki Wakai (Japan), 17. Dave Orwig (USA), 18. Tomohiro Nakayama (Japan) 19. Joffa Harris (Australia), 20. Arthur Strang (England)