In a rematch of a close ‘Friendly’ last year the Tokyo Gaijin RFC took on Akanegahama out at Asahi Shinbun Ground in Misato on the 25th of February. It was to turn out a very close match with Akanegahama stealing the game 18v17 at the death, despite being outscored three tries to two. Most Gaijin players thought they had won despite the late try by the Akanegahama side but they had forgotten about the two successful penalties converted by their opposition.
Shaunne Hughes was captain for the day as the Gaijin were missing regular captain Alaister Nimmo.
The Gaijin were to rue wrong options and poor kicking. They also gave away some silly penalties but the referee certainly did them no favours with some questionable penalties within easy kicking distance allowing Akanegahama to stay in touch on the scoreboard. Wade Dahlgren scored two tries and had two disallowed in a very impressive performance of power. The first of his tries was definitely a try (yours truly was under the mass of bodies right next to Wade) however the referee was unsighted on the other side of the ruck. Others say the second of his disallowed tries was also a try but the referee didn`t see it that way.
The Gaijin made some strong runs but the very last pass would go to ground or an excellent cover tackle would break down the movement. Early on, there was a lot of kicking directed at the Akanegahama fullback, which was a poor option as ‘ZipZip Man’ was their best player and constantly beat the first line of defense.
For the Gaijin it was hard to go past Wade Dahlgren (despite an on-field explosion with some team-mates) as Man of the Match. He ran the ball with venom and was constantly dragging three or four defenders with him. Apisai Bati was also on fire out in the backs constantly causing a menace to the Akanegahama backs. It was too hard to split the two for Man of the Match honours so they were shared. Takayuki Kitajima in the front row also had a solid game and Takashi Narita, who moved to half-back from hooker early in the game, had a fine performance behind the scrum. No ‘Goat’ was awarded as everyone pulled their weight and there were no embarrassing moments.