Ellis bags hat-trick as Kobe beat Sanix

TOKYO (Sept. 29) – A hat-trick of tries from former All Black Andy Ellis ensured Kobe Kobelco Steelers maintained their unbeaten start to the 2018-19 Japan Rugby Top League season Saturday as they beat Munakata Sanix Blues 69-5.

In a game that was originally scheduled for Round 2, the Steelers ran in 11 tries in all to make it three wins and a draw and go top of the Red Conference on 15 points.

Toyota Verblitz are second with 13 points, with three teams – Suntory Sungoliath, Toyota Industries Shuttles and NTT Communications Shining Arcs – a further point back.

Ryohei Yamanaka and Richard Buckman both touched down twice for Kobe and there were further tries for Shohei Shikata, Ryuhei Arita, Daiki Hashimoto and Shinsuke Iseki with Nick Ealey kicking seven conversions.

Andrew Everingham was Sanix’s lone try scorer as the Blues remain stuck at the bottom of the group without a point to their name.

The game at Tsukisamu Open Stadium was originally slated for Sept. 8 but was postponed as a result of the earthquake that hit Hokkaido two days earlier.

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.

The full competition resumes next week with four games on Saturday and four on Sunday.