The 24 v Voodoo
Dateline: November 19 th , 2017
For the second week in a row the Tokyo Gaijin RFC had to withstand a strong fightback after leading 24 v 0.
This time they were up against Tokyo Crusaders RFC at the beautiful Tatsumi ground in central Tokyo. The
Gaijin have had 6 or 7 years of domination over the Crusaders but lost to them last year in the Shuto League
so all involved knew they were in for a tough match.
The Gaijin were suffering a backline shortage and enlisted the help of usual loose forward Nik Pavesic and
hooker Peter Calvert to fill the void. Pavesic started at fullback but spent most of the game at centre with
Kenta Karino and Nafetalai Helu alternating at fullback. Calvert played on the wing but may want to keep that
The game started horribly for the Gaijin when they were penalized just 10 seconds into the game for a ruck
infringement. The Crusaders worked their way to the Gaijin 22 meter line then earned another penalty. From
the ensuing line out the Crusaders kicked perfectly into the corner but the Gaijin got their way out of trouble
when the Crusaders were penalized for accidental offside.
It was not until the 14 th minute that the first try was scored and it was to be the Gaijin to strike first. A good run
by inside centre Chris Musgrave then a pass to Nick Pasevic who put on a massive fend that saw the
Crusaders No.10 go flying backwards, got the Gaijin into the Crusaders half. This was followed by a jinking
run by Nafetalai Helu but he was caught just short of the try line. Gaijin No.8 Takashi Tanikawa was quick to
the ruck, picked up the ball and dived over the try line untouched. Paddy Watson failed with the conversion 15
metres in from touch but the Gaijin had the all-important first points. Score: 5 v 0 to the TGRFC.
The Gaijin then let the kickoff bounce but recovered and good interplay got them back into the Crusaders half.
Fantastic stepping by ‘ Mr Twinkle-toes’ Nafetalai Helu gained the Gaijin further territory. The ball was spun
left and Takashi Tanikawa made a long break down the left flank, and then the ball was spread back to the
right and Helu drew the last tackler for hooker-cum- winger Peter Calvert to race the last 25 metres to score in
the corner. Watson again missed with the wide conversion to leave the Gaijin with a 10 v 0 lead.
Nafetalai Helu was in the action again soon after with a good break and that magic left foot step again beating
three players. The ball was spun to the right and Nick Pavesic had a case of white line fever as he ignored the
overlap and decided to go himself. He was caught short but the ball was quickly recycled from the ruck and
Helu beat the last tackle to score under the posts. Watson duly converted to make the lead 17 v 0 to the
Soon after a kick through by the Crusaders was allowed to bounce but the Gaijin recovered, and a strong run
by Nick Pavesic got the Gaijin close to halfway. This was followed by a powerful charge by Glen Amos up the
right flank from a quick ruck. Another quick recycle and the ball was spun left and ended up in the hands of
Kenta Karino who found himself in space and raced 30 metres to score. Paddy Watson’s conversion hit the
post and then went in to make the score 24 v 0.
The next big play of note was an absolutely crunching tackle by Gaijin centre Chris Musgrave on his opposite
12. It was a HUGE hit and put the him down for the count. To his credit the target got up after a minute or so
and played on.
The Gaijin finished the half with a long run from their 22 metre line. It started with wing-pretender Peter
Calvert on the right making good yards. The ball was then swung out to Nafetalai Halu who made a long run.
The ball then went onto Nick Pavesic and then to Yuki Hattori who was caught just 5 metres short. The
Crusaders managed to keep their line intact and the half time whistle put an end to the first half proceedings.
The second half started like the first and within a minute of the Gaijin kicking off they were penalized. The
Crusaders worked the ball into the Gaijin 22 and then scored with barely two minutes on the clock. They
converted to make the score 24 v 7 and that 24 v 0 hoodoo was threatening.
Paddy Watson then erred when his kickoff didn’t go the required 10 metres. The Gaijin needed to snap out of
their half time slumber!
Around the 10 minute mark of the second half some replacements were made to arrest the decline and it was
to be two big-hitting Fijians. Baz Lobendahn replaced Liam Ramshaw at lock, and Mosese Rarasea replaced
Peter Calvert but moved into centre.
It took the Gaijin 13 minutes of the second half to get into the Crusaders half.
At the 20 minute mark Nik Pavesic took a dummy and the Crusader’s centre stormed over the try line and
rounded to score under the posts. The conversion meant they were back in the game at 24 v 14.
28 minutes into the half and the Gaijin finally got over the try line from a lineout maul after a couple of
penalties their way. It was Glen Amos who came up with the try. Watson failed with the conversion but there
was a little more breathing space at 29 v 14.
The Gaijin rolled out more reserves to try to finish with a bang with club stalwarts Joffa Harris and Apisai Bati joining the game along with Alessandro Dal Corso and Tommy Nasuno.
The Crusaders hadn’t finished their comeback though and managed to score again and the successful
conversion made for a nail-biting last 5 minutes.
With barely any time on the clock the Gaijin received a penalty 30 metres out form the Crusaders line and
pointed towards the posts. Paddy Watson failed with his kick as it sailed slightly to the left of the posts but
importantly he sucked up some of the remaining minutes and made sure the ball went dead. From the 22 metre drop out the Gaijin managed to close out the game and continue on their unbeaten way in the 2017
The star of the show was undoubtedly Nafetalai Helu. His pace and step continually caused the Crusaders
defense headaches and he was unanimously named Man of the Match. Chris Musgrave was another to stand
out with some big hits in defense and powerful running – a great foil to the finesse of his fleet-footed backline
partner. Nick Pavesic also did a great job of filling in in the backs and made some telling runs, and Peter
Calvert will probably be able to bathe with the backs from now on after filling in admirably on the wing (From the engine room to the beauty parlor – Oh my!).
The penalty count against the Gaijin was a bit worrying so they’ll have to improve their discipline in the final
against Koryo. They’ll also have to deal with their slow starts to the second half. Giving up 24 point half time
leads 2 games in a row and squeezing out a win will not work against the strong Koryo outfit.
SCORE : TGRFC 29 (Takashi Tanikawa 1, Peter Calvert 1, Nafetalai Helu 1, Kenta Karino 1, Glen Amos 1
tries, Paddy Watson 2/5 conversions; 0/1 penalties) Crusaders RFC 21 (3 tries, 3/3 conversions)
Man of the Match: Nafetalai Helu
1. Akihito Kashiwaba (Japan)
2. Tomohiro Setoguchi (c) (Japan)
3. Tsunaki ‘Don’ Tanaka (Japan)
4. Liam Ramshaw (England)
5. Glen Amos (England)
6. Shinpei Yamaguchi (Japan)
7. Nate Igel (USA)
8. Takashi Tanikawa (Japan)
9. Yuki Hattori (Japan)
10. Paddy Watson (Canada)
11. Peter Calvert (Ireland)
12. Chris Musgrave (Scotland)
13. Nafetalai Helu (Tonga)
14. Kenta Karino (Japan)
15. Nikola Pavesic (Croatia)
16. Tomofumi Nasuno (Japan)
17. Natsu Kunitomo (Japan)*
18. Allessadro Dal Corso (Italy)
19. Baz Lobendahn (Fiji)
20. Joffa Harris (Australia)
21. Apisai Bati (Fiji)
22. Sean Robinson(Ireland)*
23. Mosese Rarasea (Fiji)
24. Sandy Chung (England)*
*Denotes did not make it onto the field.