Tokyo Cup 2nd Round - TGRFC 39 Voyagers 7
Most of the team gathered at 10 am in the usual spot to summon taxis for the trip out to the field. We say most, as for the 2nd week in a row we were still lacking that very important component in a team, the captain. To our surprise, even though captain Al Nimmo is conversive in Japanese he cannot differentiate between the slowest train in the world, and one that gets there on time. Possibly he was penning the reply to that very nasty email that fell into Gaijin hands. Unbeknownst to
the opposition, a mail they had formulated was mistakenly sent to one of our members. This was promptly shared on our own mailing list, and all but provided the fuel we needed to kick-start our Tokyo Cup campaign again after a disappointing defeat in the first round.
After the usual hoop jumping for officials the game got underway at 12.30 under an ominous looking sky. The forecast had said showers but with a steady wind blowing in our face we were confident that most of the bad weather would be blown off. However, depending on the game situation, rain and the consequent slowing down of the game could favour the TGRFC in the last few minutes of a tight game.
After a Voyagers kickoff the game settled into a controlled chaos with TGRFC taking the ball in clean and moving up field with good work by the forwards. A lot of mess at the breakdown punctuated the first few minutes while both teams attempted to assert dominance. Biased eyes would have the Gaijin on top after some strong play around the side of the breakdown, with a break propelling us upfield after a charge-down.
There was a slur of penalties early on for minor infringements but the first one of real consequence was for a head high tackle. Typically enough it was Niall Conlon who suffered it. He has proved to be a very unlucky man in terms of head high tackles. On many occasions he has come in for high shots and continues to our surprise to still have a head. It was to be this penalty that propelled the team into an attacking position and the chance to be on a sustained period of attack. Once again it was minor errors at the wrong time that saw us lose those hard worked for yards and to be back in mid-field again.
With about 15 minutes gone in the game and no points by either team on the board the game was waiting for something to happen. This was when resident big man Rob Reinebach made a burst up field and gave a big `dont argue` to the opposition number 10 who was a man of smaller stature. This was not to provide the inspiration we needed and within about 5 minutes of that incident the Voyagers were to be up 7 - 0. A sustained period of pressure by the Voyagers on our line saw a string of whistle blowing and the try, where their big number 13 favorably bounced off a big hit from Conlon, and managed to flop over the line for the first try.
This was an unfortunate situation to be in as the majority of the game had been controlled by the TGRFC and it was their errors that were providing the only real opportunities for Voyagers to move into the red zone.
This was also to be the time when we lost a vital cog in our team plan which was based upon strong forward work. Vice-Captain Mark Pearson proved to be more susceptible than he thought to a knee injury from an earlier game which saw him limp from the field after about 25 minutes.
Not long after this though was the scoring of the first try by the Gaijin. It was a nice try finished off in the corner by Takeshi Takada, playing in his last game for the club before he heads back to Australia. A sweeping movement down the field with a noticeably good break by Shaunne Hughes being the catalyst. This was one of many fine touches that Hughes had in this game. The position switch from lock to five-eighth (standoff) for the good of the team, to utilize his boot and obvious handling skills was about to come into fruition.
With about 10 minutes left in the half the Voyagers were getting noticeably impatient that they hadn`t taken advantage of a generous breeze and our "fat, slow forwards" and "ordinary backs". Not long after Takayuki Kitajima had slammed a guy into the turf in a big tackle, from which the man rose slowly, they opted for a hastily taken droppy which fell short and wide from not so far out. They then looked to their big angry # 13 who was making himself known to our team in a number of respects, none favourable. We are a team that plays hard and fair, and when our opposition mistake this and start playing dirty they only come in for harder and fairer treatment.
So not long after 3 TGRFC members gang tackled #13, a huge break was made downfield with Yoichi Ohira being the player to profit from what was a very nice team try. The try was to be converted and with some good defence just before the end of the half the boys went to the break 12 - 7 up and the added benefit of the breeze at our backs in the second spell.
One change at halftime saw a new player in the centres and therefore a backline reshuffle to accomodate this. This change proved to be beneficial as not long after the restart a gliding attack with strong touches by Dave Kelver, Reinebach and Hughes saw the new man, Mark Arthur Strang Armstrong place one over the line for another 5 points. The team was beginning to go from strength to strength with uncharacteristically good handling in conditions that were slowly turning into a shambles with persistent rain and a field that was beginning to cut up.
Soon the Voyagers No#13 was at it again much to the ire of TGRFC supporters, and a penalty against another of his infringements stopped a sure try in our favour with Rob Poulton being pulled back when he had a clear line in front of him. This was to undo the strong earlier work by Takashi Mutou who had put in a big tackle up field, and the following strong run by Sean O`Donoghue.
Several minutes later the team would be on full attack again after big yards were peeled off from a midfield penalty. Hughes gave the team good position to launch with the lineout win all but guaranteed with the great throwing/jumping combination developing between Poulton and Murray Clarke. Another succession of penalties on the Voyagers line and good control by the team meant that another 5 pointer was inevitable. Takashi Mutou would score in the corner relatively easily after the Voyagers had chewed up numbers in bringing down our big men who had been charging at the line to make it 22 - 7. The forwards were displaying great control and playing strong with successive phases tiring the opposition. Jessie Takahashi must be mentioned here as his pick and drives, and work in the ruck and around the fringes had been strong all day, and this hard work meant opportunities were becoming plentiful wider out.
Wet weather was becoming not much of an issue for this team with the boys throwing the pill around more freely than is often done in perfect conditions. Not long after it was 27 - 7 after Big Rob Reinebach swatted off a few players on his way to the line.
With about 10 minutes left in the game we would see Takeshi Takeda go off for the last time and will be a player who will be sorely missed. He has never lacked in spirit and often his jinking little runs have not only baffled opposition but those on his own team. He was to be replaced by John Dean who had made way for the backline changes when he missed practice after some leaky bowels suffered the week before.
The next try to be conjured up was interesting to watch. After an absurd looking sky-hook style pass by Hughes, which saw Owen run clear and then offload to Niall Conlon the team went to 34 - 7 with the conversion. Another try soon after was butchered when Dean let the ball dribble from his hands in a pass that was probably pretty close to what had been dribbling from his stomach earlier in the week.
With time running down quickly Paulo Arnaud de Berriozabal cemented a very strong game with a good run that showed his strength to stand in the tackle. His aggression at the breakdown fits comfortably with the style the team plays and many were thankful for his commitment to team retribution. He also had a rather nasty mark on his face courtesy of that certain player from the other team.
As the last nail in the coffin Hughes scored a five pointer. When the ball wasn’t cleared from a voyagers kick, it was returned by a hard running Sean O`Donoghue. He brushed off about 4 would-be tacklers before offloading to Hughes who plummeted over the last few metres. And in a sliding finale to his try a man fell on him in lazy fashion. Hughes in an attempt to Hollywood his way to a red card for the opposition player, writhed on the ground in true Hughes fashion to the amusement of a number of people.
The game finished at 39 - 7 with the players more satisfied than a fortnight before when they had gone down. The only bad news was that Yoichi Ohira would be spending 3 months on the sideline after breaking his pinkie!
FINAL SCORE – TGRFC 39 ( Takada 1, Ohira 1, Armstrong 1, Mutou 1, Reinebach 1, Conlon 1, Hughes 1
try, Hughes 2/6 goals, Mutou 0/1 goal) beat Voyagers 7.
MEN OF THE MATCH - Sean Hughes (Backs) for obvious reasons above and
Takayuki Kitajima (Forwards) who is a man that continues to prove he is very strong in the final 20 minutes of a game. He performs powerfully throughout and in the final 20 makes a number of impressive plays whether in attack or in defense that often categorizes the start of a movement or the snuffling out of an opposition attack.
GOAT OF THE MATCH - Captain Nimmo who only got goat because of his lack of punctuality and was nothing to do with his performance on the field which was terrier like in hard conditions. He distributed great ball all day and had a number of beneficial sniping runs on his own.
Jerry Brady of the Match - Jerry Brady for being Jerry Brady
Once again thanks to all those who came and helped. Your support is always appreciated and the team cannot go forward without your support.
1. Mark Pearson (USA)
2. Rob Poulton (England)
3. Takayuki Kitajima (Japan)
4. Sean O`Donoghue (Ireland)
5. Jesse Cutler (USA)
6. Dave Kelver (USA)
7. Murray Clarke (NZ)
8. Rob Reinebach (USA)
9. Alistair Nimmo (England)
10. Shaunne Hughes (Australia)
11. So Nagashima (Japan)
12. Niall Conlon (England)
13. Yoichi Ohira (Japan)
14. Takeshi Takada (Japan)
15. Takashi Mutou (Japan)
16. Dave Orwig (USA)
17. Dana Post (USA)
18. Paulo Arnaud de Berriozabal (Basque)
19. Mark ArthurArmstrong (England via NZ)
20. Jo Iwasaki (Japan)
21. Jonathon Dean (Canada)
22. Ryoichi Matsumura (Japan)