Suntory Win Top League Title

KOBE (Jan. 14) – Suntory Sungoliath won their fourth Japan Rugby Top League title Saturday thanks to a 27-15 win over Kobe Kobelco Steelers.

The victory at Noevir Stadium was the 15th straight win for Keisuke Sawaki’s team and sees them finish the season on 69 points, two more than Yamaha Jubilo, who beat eighth-placed Toyota Verblitz 27-8.

Tries from Hendrik Tui, Shota Emi and Kotaro Matsushima and three conversions and two penalty goals from man-of-the-match Kosei Ono saw Suntory home.

Chikara Ito bagged a hat-trick of tries for Yamaha, but their loss to Suntory on Christmas Eve proved to be the difference between champions and runner-up.

Suntory, Yamaha and Panasonic Wild Knights along with collegiate champions Teikyo University will now contest the All-Japan Championship.

Panasonic were already assured of third place and they finished their regular season campaign with a 15-14 win over Toshiba Brave Lupus thanks to a penalty two minutes after the hooter from Keisuke Moriya – his fifth of the game.

Kobe finished in fifth spot, eight points ahead of NTT Communications Shining Arcs, who beat Kubota Spears 27-17.

Ricoh Black Rams finished a best-ever sixth thanks to a 33-14 defeat of Coca-Cola Red Sparks with Daisuke Komatsu and Amanaki Lotoahea both touching down twice.

Canon Eagles saw off outgoing coach Yoji Nagatomo with a won as they beat Honda Heat 28-26, to ensure Honda are relegated with just one win to their name.

Verblitz’s loss to Yamaha sees them in eighth spot, two points above Toshiba, who finished outside the top three for the first time.

NEC Green Rockets finished the season in 10th spot despite a 26-24 loss to Munakata Sanix Blues, who finished 11th. Bryce Robins celebrated his 100th TL game in style, bagging two tries for Sanix.

Coca-Cola’s loss to Ricoh left them sandwiched between Kintetsu and Toyota Industries in 14th place after the Liners beat the Shuttles 26-24.

The sides finishing 13th to 15th play a one-off promotion/relegation game against the fourth, third and second ranked teams, respectively, from the regional leagues.