1st-round Playoffs for League Champion Set
TOKYO (Oct. 20) – The pool stage of the 2019-19 Japan Rugby Top League season reached its conclusion Saturday and the four 1st-round playoff games to determine the league champions have been set.
Kobe Kobelco Steelers finished top of the Red Conference following a 48-31 win over NEC Green Rockets that saw them finish the round-robin section unbeaten.
Rakuhei Yamashita and Ryohei Yamanaka both touched down three times and Dan Carter kicked 13 points to ensure the Steelers finished on 30 points, four more than Suntory Sungoliath and Toyota Verblitz.
Suntory finished second by virtue of winning more games than Verblitz, Sungoliath finishing their group campaign with a 50-12 win over Hino Red Dolphins, thanks to eight tries from eight different players.
Verblitz, meanwhile, beat beat Toyota Industries Shuttles 31-20 thanks to a brace of tries from Seiyu Kohara.
Two five pointers from Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco helped NTT Communications Shining Arcs to a 32-12 defeat of Munakata Sanix Blues to hand Rob Penney’s side fourth spot.
Yamaha Jubilo finished top of the White Conference as they held on for a 40-36 win over Ricoh Black Rams thanks to two tries each from Hiroto Kobayashi and Viliami Tahitu’a.
Panasonic Wild Knights finished a point behind Yamaha on 27 points following their 25-6 win over Canon Eagles.
Three tries from Yuji Ito helped Kubota Spears defeat Coca-Cola Red Sparks 50-12 and jump into third place ahead of Ricoh.
In the day’s other game, Honda Heat beat Toshiba Brave Lupus 45-26.
The playoffs to determine the league champions therefore see Kobe play Ricoh, Yamaha up against NTT Communications, Suntory versus Kubota and Panasonic will take on Verblitz.
In the first round of the playoffs to determine which four sides (13th to 16th) enter relegation/promotion playoffs with the top four teams from the second-division Top Challenge League, Honda play Sanix, NEC take on Coca-Cola, Toyota Industries will be up against Canon and Hino will battle it out with Toshiba.