Kobe Down Hino, Head Red Conference

TOKYO (Oct. 7) – Kobe Kobelco Steelers picked up their fourth win of the 2018-19 Japan Rugby Top League season Sunday to move top of the Red Conference.

Shinsuke Iseki crossed the chalk four times, Richard Buckman bagged a hat-trick and Isileli Nakajima had a brace as the Steelers, who also have one draw to their name, ran in 12 tries in a 74-10 defeat of Hino Red Dolphins.

Kobe head their group with 20 points, two more than Toyota Verblitz and four more than Suntory Sungoliath who beat Toyota Industries Shuttles 35-24 on the back of tries from Takaaki Nakazuru, Yusuke Kajimura, Takuya Kitade, Hendrik Tui and Naoki Ozawa.

The defeat drops the Shuttles to fifth spot on 12 points after Brackin Karauria-Henry’s late try handed NTT Communications Shining Arcs a losing bonus point as they went down 34-31 to NEC Green Rockets.

In the day’s only game in the White Conference, Japan lock Samuela Anise scored two tries as Canon beat Coca-Cola Red Sparks 43-24 to keep the Eagles’ hopes of a top-four finish alive.

Panasonic Wild Knights top the group with 22 points, three more than Yamaha Jubilo, with Ricoh Black Rams third on 15 points. Kubota Spears are a point behind in fourth, Canon fifth with 12 and Toshiba Brave Lupus sixth on 11.

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.