Out came the Gaijin for a big must win final against a team we had beaten over the past few seasons, the last time being 2004. Musashino clearly were a better side and we expected as much with the pre-match reconn raising the fact that they had 1) not scored less than 36 points in any game in the Tokyo Cup (even during the mud bog semi final), 2) had been winning due to a solid platform by their forwards and 3) they had two classy looking wingers with pace to burn. The Gaijin came into the match after blowing their Round 1 assignment against Fuji who succumbed to Musashino in the Semi 36-0. We had come good since then and racked up some 50+ scores to reach the playoff stage and had won our Semi-Final in the mud 7-0 by playing much of the game within our half and on our try line. As a team we certainly felt we had the character and talent to win against anyone and we were in for a tough match.
The TGRFC earned their place in the Semi Finals of the Tokyo Cup 2nd Division, courtesy of their superior points differential. As 4th place qualifiers we would be drawn against the team with the most points and arguably the best team in the competition – All Jin Jyan (A.J.J). (NOTE: The winner of each of the three pools and the best second place finisher went through to the semi-finals. The TGRFC had a For & Against of +74 which allowed them to sneak into 4th position ahead of Dasewa Club which had a points differential of +70.) Whilst the Gaijin had only qualified fourth, they had shown through the previous two weeks 50+ points games, that they were a team that had unfinished business.
Throughout the week there was a lot of talk based around what little we knew about the opposition and what we could do to combat their strengths. As time progressed we established ways to negate their strengths and began to concentrate on ours.
What a headliner and what a game. In scoring 55 points the Gaijin not only beat but completely smashed a Donkey’s side that we club had never beaten (despite the close scores over the past 4 years, that include the nil-nil draw in the mud last year). The Donkey’s sneaked in a lone 5 pointer in the final 15 minutes when the game was well lost and the Gaijin took a breather for a brief period. A massive effort was put in from the get-go by the whole team who ran themselves hard, putting their opponents under immense pressure and winning turnovers from the resulting errors. That pressure, coupled with Captain Matt Downer’s clever kicking game saw the Gaijin gain considerable territory and when the ball was in hand they were able to run in some excellent tries.