Suntory Edge Past NTT Comms

TOKYO (Sept. 7) Suntory Sungoliath picked up their second win of the 2018-19 Japan Rugby Top League season on Friday night, but as in the opening week it was a close run thing.

The two time defending champions beat NTT Communications Shining Arcs 20-18 in front of a good crowd of 9,029 at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground, a week after beating Toyota Verblitz 27-25 in their season opener.

“It was a close game and we got the win but we’re not playing at the level of champions,” said Suntory captain Yutaka Nagare. “We made too many 50-50 passes and knock ons and couldn’t create space to get the Suntory attack going.”

NTT Comms won the toss and opted to play into a strong southerly wind.

“The forecast was it would be 24 kph all evening…but it died significantly,” NTT coach Rob Penney rued after the game.

Suntory started well and two penalties from Hikaru Tamura were soon followed by a well-taken try by Yusuke Kajimura that Tamura added the extras to to make it 13-0 with 14 minutes on the clock.

NTT, however, dominated much of the rest of the half and a try from Ryutaro Ueda and a penalty by Jumpei Ogura meant the teams turned around with just five points separating them.

Ogura added a second penalty early in the 49th minute before Kajimura made it a brace when he touched down eight minutes later, Tamura adding the extras to make it 20-11.

The Shining Arcs once again dominated the later stages of the half though and a try by Brackin Karauria-Henry, converted by Ogura, set up a grandstand finish, with Suntory just holding on.

Round 2 continues Saturday with five games across Japan – though the Kobe Kobelco Steelers vs Munakata Sanix Blues game slated for Hokkaido has been postponed as a result of Thursday’s earthquake.

The weekend’s action concludes Sunday with Toshiba Brave Lupus playing Ricoh Black Rams at Tokyo’s Komazawa Olympic Park Stadium.