Despite it being September, there is no sign of the heat dying down anytime soon as we started this year’s Shuto League campaign against Zenkai Beers. As defending Champions, everyone knew what was expected of them and was ready to make sure that we kept the title. The first 2 games are being played at the desert (AKA Yanokuchi) so there was no excuse to lose at the ground we were so familiar with.
The game proved to be a fight of endurance as both sides were struggling with the heat and lack of forwards on the bench. This proved to be quite a challenge considering the backs in particular, who have never scrummed in their life, had a tendency to ‘let the ball slip’ for most of the game resulting in a very high number of scrums. To make matters worse, the defence was weak at times, letting the opposition ease past the line and score easy tries at times. However, it was not all bad. There were plenty of positives which as a result led us to victory.
The Gaijins landed the first punch after 10 minutes, scoring off a lineout maul from the opposition 22 (TS: Hiroshi Fukusawa). Soon after, the opposition scoffed the kick-off, Kohei Mitsuhashi straight from the scrum kicked a beautiful up-and-under for Yu Nagai to catch and score. However, Zenkai had other ideas and they were able to capitalize on a string of sloppy penalties and loose defence. The guys soon rallied up and did the same to them scoring after a great sequence between the two Filipinos (Tomohiro Setoguchi and Kohei) in the squad, finishing with Sou Miyake scoring. An unforced error from Hiroshi Fukusawa, gifted them with the ball and was able to score. A quick sequence of hands from A to Z a few minutes after made sure that the Gaijins were still at good arm’s length of the opposition (TS: Conan O’Sullivan). After defending the final minutes before half-time, the opposition was awarded a try, making the score 24-21.
The second half started with a bang as the Gaijins were able to score 3 minutes after the referee blew the whistle (TS: Taun Vermeulen). Zenkai were able to go over the line one more time but that would be the last for them. The score at this point was 29-28 which would have been a very tight game but with 20 minutes still on the clock, the Gaijins made a few changes to the backline, b ringing new energy to the team. We finished the game with 6 unanswered tries (TS: Conan, Oisin MacPartlin, Hiroshi, Nagai, Fumio Mino, Izawa Hana), 69-31.
Game was much closer than the score line shows but due to the loose defence at times, Zenkai did keep us on our toes for majority of the game. MVP was Conan O’Sullivan who scored a hat-trick and made plenty of key tackles and runs to help us get the win. Big shout out to the forwards for playing the whole game with only one sub and keeping it together (Honorable Mentions: Win Irham, Lonnie Blankenship, Natsuhiko Kunitomo). Also a big thank you to Haruna and Ayaka for the photos and videos)
Izawa Hana (JPN)
Damien Naughton (IRE)
Fumio Mino (JPN)
Yu Nagai (JPN)
Joshua Andrade (ENG)
Nabin Giri (NPL)
Martin Dulhoste (FRA)
Ryo Takahama (JPN)
Thanks a lot to Haruna Setoguchi for recording the game.