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WE DID IT – Gaijin take Cup Winners’ Cup!

Dateline: 20th March 2016
Tokyo Gaijin RFC won this year's Cup Winners Cup after a tight, physical and high scoring final in which both teams would emerge with substantial credit: the Gaijin for keeping a points lead throughout the match, and Tokyo Mandala for chasing it down until the tense final seconds.
With a significant number of regular players now touring overseas in the Manila 10s, Tokyo Gaijin RFC drew on their substantial player network, as well as their stamina, to win this key game on a beautiful sunny afternoon at Edogawa Athletic Stadium.  And yet, gone was the monster pack that took apart the Supermen and Koryo, and in it's place a lighter tight five that, despite making concessions in the set-piece, sacrificed nothing in the tough midfield scraps that characterized the match.  Throw in a bruising back row and a hard tackling and innovative back division and the Gaijin had just enough to get ahead and stay there.  
Despite defending their try line early on, first blood came to the Gaijin in the 8th minute when fly-half Alex Moule made the break to put debut lock Mosese Nasegasega across the line for the first of his three tries.  However, the Mandala response was immediate and the Gaijin would collect two yellow cards as their defensive efforts became increasingly desperate – leaving them only a nine point buffer (not to mention a 2 man deficit) as they walked off at the break 28-19.  Fortunately the scoreboard would be ticking over strongly right to the third quarter; Sam De Roek, ‘Baby' Joe Nawaqavanua and Kenta Karino would all go in for five pointers to put the Gaijin ahead 45-26 at just past the hour mark.  Successful conversions – of immense importance in this match – came from the twinkle toes of Kenichi Yokoyama, Keiichiro Endo and Mojee Rarasea.  
But when the Mandala fight back began, it began in earnest and the scrum was the first place to feel the heat as they clawed back fourteen of the twenty points they needed for the win.  Fortunately the points buffer and desperate tackling did the job.  The backs as a whole earned respect for their defence with Sam De Roek, Sovita Tui, Masaaki Kakishita and fullback and vice captain Toshinori Minamidate particularly visible in this role – a trial that only ended when Akira Yamagen punted the ball out to the welcome sound of the final whistle. 
Big thanks go to all those who turned out including extra players, well-wishers, family members and water carriers – all of whom made a special day even better and put a big smile on Bati's face at the post-match celebration!
Scorers: TGRFC 45 – Tokyo Mandara RFC 40
TGRFC Tries: Mosese Nasegasega 3, Sam De Roek 1, Joe Nawaqavanua 2, Kenta Karino 1.  Conversions: Kenichi Yokoyama 3/3, Keiichiro Endo 1/1, Mojee Rarasea 1/2. 
Tokyo Mandala RFC Tries: 6, Converted 5.
Men of the match: Congratulations to opposition's man of the match: Joe Nawaqavanua for his awesome carrying, and captain's man of the match: Sam De Roek for his tackling and defensive organization. 
  1. Joseph Vanualailai (Fiji)
  2. Chihiro Nakajima (Japan)
  3. Koji Aramaki (Japan)
  4. Mosese Nasegasega (Fiji)
  5. Tetsu Kumagai (Japan)  
  6. Apisai Bati (c) (Fiji)
  7. Joe Nawaqavanua (Fiji)
  8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
  9. Kenichi Yokoyama (Japan)
  10. Alex Moule (England)
  11. Keiichiro Endo (Japan)
  12. Sovita Tui (Fiji)
  13. Sam De Roek (England)
  14. Masaaki Kakishita (Japan)
  15. Toshinori Minamidate (Japan)
  • Daisuke Nakamura (Japan)
  • Kosuke Yamamoto (Japan)
  • Mojee Rarasea (Fiji)
  • Dan Barnett (England)
  • Akira Yamagen (Japan)
  • Taku Eguchi (South Africa)
  • Wataru Sato (Japan)
  • Ryo Takahashi (Japan)
  • Kenta Karino (Japan)
Also attending: Yoshihiro Sato (Japan), Natsuhiko Kunitomo (Japan), Jo Iwasaki (Japan)

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