Kobe’s Unbeaten Run Comes to an End

KUMAGAYA, Japan (Oct. 7) – Kobe Kobelco Steelers’ unbeaten start to the 2017-18 Japan Rugby Top League season came to an end Saturday when they went down 31-26 to Canon Eagles.

Kosuke Hashino gave the Eagles an early lead at Kumgaya Athletic Stadium before the Steelers hit back to lead 14-7.

But Canon dominated the last 20 minutes of the first half and first 10 of the second to go 31-14 up thanks to tries from Toshiki Amano, Sugura Hidaka, Naoto Shimada and Hosea Saumaki.

Tries from Itaru Taniguchi and Ryang Jong Chu (his second of the day) set up a grandstand finish, but Canon’s defense held out as the Eagles picked up their second win of the season.

The defeat leaves Kobe six points adrift of Suntory Sungoliath in the Red Conference after Suntory made it seven wins from seven games for 34 points thanks to a 45-0 victory over Munakata Sanix Blues.

Chihito Matsui ran in a second-half brace and there were also five-pointers for front-row duo Yusuke Aoki and Kensuke Hatakeyama, George Smith, Hendrik Tui and Kotaro Matsushima.

Toyota Verblitz are third in the group on 23 points after three penalties and a drop goal from Lionel Cronje helped them to a 12-6 win over Ricoh Black Rams.

The White Conference is headed by Panasonic Wild Knights, the only side in the league yet to drop a point.

Kenki Fukuoka, Yoshikazu Fujita, Iori Kaji and Kentaro Kodama all touched down as Robbie Deans’ team beat Toyota Industries Shuttles 32-3.

Panasonic lead their group by 15 points from Yamaha Jubilo, who take on NEC Green Rockets in Sunday’s only game, with Ricoh also on 20 points following their loss to Verblitz.

In the day’s other games, Coenraad van Wyk scored a try and four conversions as Toshiba Brave Lupus beat Coca-Cola Red Sparks 33-24 – a result that means Cola, along with Toyota Shuttles, have yet to win this season.

Lionel Mapoe grabbed a brace of tries as Kubota Spears beat Kintetsu Liners 28-14, while NTT Communications Shining Arcs downed NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes 27-18 with Jumpei Ogura weighing in with a try, two conversions and a penalty goal.