Out came the Gaijin for a big must win final against a team we had beaten over the past few seasons, the last time being 2004. Musashino clearly were a better side and we expected as much with the pre-match reconn raising the fact that they had 1) not scored less than 36 points in any game in the Tokyo Cup (even during the mud bog semi final), 2) had been winning due to a solid platform by their forwards and 3) they had two classy looking wingers with pace to burn. The Gaijin came into the match after blowing their Round 1 assignment against Fuji who succumbed to Musashino in the Semi 36-0. We had come good since then and racked up some 50+ scores to reach the playoff stage and had won our Semi-Final in the mud 7-0 by playing much of the game within our half and on our try line. As a team we certainly felt we had the character and talent to win against anyone and we were in for a tough match.
The TGRFC earned their place in the Semi Finals of the Tokyo Cup 2nd Division, courtesy of their superior points differential. As 4th place qualifiers we would be drawn against the team with the most points and arguably the best team in the competition – All Jin Jyan (A.J.J). (NOTE: The winner of each of the three pools and the best second place finisher went through to the semi-finals. The TGRFC had a For & Against of +74 which allowed them to sneak into 4th position ahead of Dasewa Club which had a points differential of +70.) Whilst the Gaijin had only qualified fourth, they had shown through the previous two weeks 50+ points games, that they were a team that had unfinished business.
Throughout the week there was a lot of talk based around what little we knew about the opposition and what we could do to combat their strengths. As time progressed we established ways to negate their strengths and began to concentrate on ours.
What a headliner and what a game. In scoring 55 points the Gaijin not only beat but completely smashed a Donkey’s side that we club had never beaten (despite the close scores over the past 4 years, that include the nil-nil draw in the mud last year). The Donkey’s sneaked in a lone 5 pointer in the final 15 minutes when the game was well lost and the Gaijin took a breather for a brief period. A massive effort was put in from the get-go by the whole team who ran themselves hard, putting their opponents under immense pressure and winning turnovers from the resulting errors. That pressure, coupled with Captain Matt Downer’s clever kicking game saw the Gaijin gain considerable territory and when the ball was in hand they were able to run in some excellent tries.
Yes, indeed. A great day for rebuilding confidence. A great day to enjoy rugby and a great day weather-wise. This was exactly what the Gaijin required to get their competition back on the tracks. Needing a large victory margin and 4 try bonus point so we can hope to end the Pool Stage with a chance to progress.
An early start to the day saw a large group of Gaijin arrive at Kizoochi with the rain dissipating and the morning sun finally breaking out. A good long build up had the team go through forward and back moves, gather together for some stretching, passing drills and then a quick game of 4-handed touch with the focus on defensive positioning, creating and using gaps in the defense. A solid team run had the squad warmed up and raring to go; minds sharp and focused on the moves and game before them.