A PASSAGE TO INDIANovember 8, 2004
Gaijin late show too slick for IdemitsuDecember 4, 2004
f the beautiful playing surface set in the leafy surroundings of semi-rural Ibaraki wasn’t enough to tip us off that our opposition was going to be a bit good, then two tries in the first seven minutes from our nemesis the rolling maul should have driven the point home. Such was the story of the first 40 minutes. Impeccably controlled line-outs and mauls, resulting in tries as boring to watch as they were excellent in their efficiency.
There is good reason to believe that Ryutsu Keizai had an equally competent backline but, besides the flyhalf who complemented his forwards with prodigious kicking, they were clearly using the first half as a forwards’ drill: four of their five tries came from the relentless mauls. The only bright spell for Gaijin in the opening 40 minutes was a try – the second in as many games – from a set piece. From a tap penalty 15 metres out and with more dummies being thrown than a grumpy Democrat in his playpen, Joffa Harris took the ball up the guts, got hauled down 3 metres out and offloaded to Chuckie Laing who had run up from fullback sniffing glory and finding it as a Scotsman finds ha’pennies down the back of the couch.
the second half was a little brighter. Having replaced their entire team, Ryutsu Keizai lost a little of their ruthlessness and forward dominance as the Gaijin pack dug deep. For 25 minutes both sides traded blows without ever looking like doing much, before the fresher legs of the university boys – and some woeful Gaijin attempts to simulate tackling – propelled them towards a bloated scoreline. For their part, the forwards hammered away and were rewarded with a storming try to Chris Lucas, who plucked from the sky a pass from Takeshi Takada that was intended for someone else and ran 20 metres to dot down by the posts. FT 12-62
It was a frustrating game. One in which the forwards toiled but were too often disparate, and lacking unity until the third quarter; and in which the backs had little to do in the first half but were inefficient with what they did have to do in the second. Coupled with some remarkably inept refereeing, it made for a difficult day.
Team: Mark Pearson; So Nagashima; Takayuki Kitajima; Mauro Sauco; Chris Lucas; Mike Taylor; Rob Reinebach; Joffa Harris; Blake Walker; Richard Beard; Takeshi Takada; Steve Bull; Konishi; Jyoh Iwasaki; Chuckie Laing. Dave Kelver; Arthur Strang; Takashi Mutou; Kalani Filivaso; Corey Beatson.