Panasonic Stay Unbeaten after Downing Yamaha
TOKYO (Sept. 22) – With four weeks gone and just three weeks remaining in the pool stage of the 2018-19 Japan Rugby Top League season, Panasonic Wild Knights and Toyota Verblitz currently top their respective conferences.
Tries from Akihito Yamada and Sam Wykes and five points from the boot of Takuya Yamasawa helped Panasonic to a 15-0 win over previously unbeaten Yamaha Jubilo 15-0 in front of 13,128 at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.
The win means Panasonic are the only team to have won all their games to date and sees them lead the White Conference with 17 points, three more than Yamaha and Ricoh Black Rams, who beat Canon Eagles on Friday night.
Toshiba Brave Lupus moved into fourth place on 11 points following a 29-14 defeat of winless Coca-Cola Red Sparks in which Shohei Toyoshima touched down twice, while a last minute converted try from Gerhard van den Heever helped Kubota to a 31-29 win over Honda Heat, leaving the Spears in fifth spot on 10 points.
Kobe Kobelco Steelers are the only other unbeaten side in the competition but they currently lie fifth in the Red Conference as a result of playing one less game.
On Saturday, Kobe drew 26-26 with Toyota Verblitz, a result that leaves Jake White’s team on top of the standings.
Jamie Henry was Toyota’s hero, crossing in the 88th minute to bring the sides level after Dan Carter had kicked four penalty goals and two conversions for the Steelers.
Verblitz have 13 points, one more than Suntory Sungoliath, Toyota Industries Shuttles and NTT Communications Shining Arcs.
Suntory downed NEC Green Rockets 47-31 on the back of a hat-trick of tries from Kotaro Matsushima. Toyota Shuttles picked up their third win of the season by beating Munakata Sanix Blues 32-15, while NTT Communications beat Hino Red Dolphins 45-28.
This season, the league’s 16 teams have been split into two Conferences — Red and White. Following seven rounds of pool games the top four sides from each group will play for the league title.
The bottom eight sides will fight it out to determine which four will enter relegation/promotion playoffs with the top four teams from the second-division Top Challenge League.