Japan Rugby Top League 2020 Round 6 Wrap-up
|Sat, 22 Feb 2020||NEC||12-26||Ricoh||11:30||Chichibu, Tokyo|
|Mitsubishi Sagamihara||7-69||Yamaha||11:30||Mizuho Stadium, Aichi|
|Toyota||20-18||Kubota||14:00||Mizuho Stadium, Aichi|
|Honda||13-14||NTT Communications||13:00||Suzuka, Mie|
|NTT Docomo||3-40||Panasonic||14:00||Hanazono, Osaka|
|Sun, 23 Feb 2020||Kobe||57-0||Toshiba||13:00||Universiade Stadium, Kobe|
To open round six, Ricoh Black Rams beat NEC Green Rockets 26-12 in the first game of a double header at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground in Tokyo. The Black Rams had the game under control in the opening stanza with tries to wing Keagen Faria and centre Ryohei Isoda giving them a handy 12-0 lead at the break. A converted try to five-eighth Matt McGahan early in the second half then extended the lead out to 19-0. The Green Rockets mounted a mini-comeback over the final quarter with two quick tries narrowing the gap to 19-12 at one point before Ricoh closed out the result with a late try. This defeat leaves NEC on the bottom of the table with six straight losses.
In the second game at Chichibu, Suntory Sungoliath were unstoppable against Hino Red Dolphins running out convincing 69-14 winners. In this 11-tries-to-3 romp, the Red Dolphins defence was stretched to breaking point by a slick Suntory attack. Right wing Takaaki Nakazuru scored a first-half hat-trick to help his side out to a 47-7 lead at halftime before the activity slowed down somewhat in the second half. Inside centre Matt Giteau was behind most of the damage in the latter half with two tries to add to his six conversions for the match giving him a personal haul of 22 points for the afternoon. Nakazuru was the man of the match.
In the first game of a double header at the Paloma Mizuho Stadium in Nagoya on Saturday afternoon, Yamaha Jubilo out-played Mitsubishi Sagamihara Dynaboars to the tune of 69-7. The Jubilo scored 11 tries with the two wingers right amongst the thick of the action. On the left flank, Malo Tuitama ran in a record six tries while over on the right wing, Jayden Ngamanu touched down three times. This comes after both players scored hat-tricks against Docomo last round. The win keeps Yamaha on the leaderboard with the likes of Panasonic and Kobe.
In the second game at Mizuho, Toyota Verblitz nearly did not make it against Kubota Spears, but they came away lucky 20-18 winners. In a tight match, the Verblitz led 7-3 at the break that then became 17-11 going in to the closing minutes of the game. The unthinkable then happened for Toyota when Kubota left wing Honeti Taumohaapai scored a late try and Bernard Foley calmly added the conversion to push the Spears in front 18-17 with seconds left on the clock. Play was allowed to resume and two minutes in to stoppage time Lionel Cronje kicked a penalty to give Toyota the win.
Elsewhere on Saturday, NTT Communications Shining Arcs edged Honda Heat 14-13 in Suzuka in Mie prefecture. In a game of two contrasting halves, Honda scored all their points in the first half to lead 13-0 at the break, and then NTT Communications scored all their 14 points in the second half to take the result by the narrowest of margins. Flanker Paul Schoeman scored the try for the Heat while first-five Baden Kerr added the conversion and two penalties. Centre Yuki Ikeda and South African hooker Malcolm Marx scored the tries for the Shining Arcs while playmaker Christian Leali’ifano added both crucial conversions. In a tense final five minutes, NTT hung on to their one-point lead after they were reduced to 14 men when flanker Willie Britz was red carded.
In the first game of a double header at the Higashiosaka Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Osaka on Saturday afternoon, Canon Eagles beat Munakata Sanix Blues 22-10. The Blues started well with a converted try to flanker Dan Pryor giving Sanix an early 7-0 lead before the Eagles then gradually played themselves back in to the game. First, fullback Michael Bond crossed the Sanix whitewash and then left wing Hosea Saumaki followed suit in the twelfth minute to nudge Canon in front. Japan international Yu Tamura added the conversion and a penalty to stretch the lead to 15-7. The Blues responded with a penalty before a late penalty try for Canon closed out the opening half with the Eagles leading 22-10. In something of a rarity, the second half went scoreless with Canon going on to collect their third win of the year.
In the other game at Hanazono, NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes stayed in their hometown to host the might of the unbeaten Panasonic Wild Knights. However, the result easily went the way of the Wild Knights as they ran in six unanswered tries in their sixth straight bonus-point win of the season. The Red Hurricanes led 3-0 up to the end of the first quarter, but after that, Panasonic found their rhythm and piled on the pressure. That pressure turned into points with wing Koki Takeyama scoring a late brace to collect the man-of-the-match award.
In the only Sunday game, Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers demolished Toshiba Brave Lupus 57-0 at the Universiade Stadium in Kobe. The undefeated Steelers kept that record intact against a Toshiba side that was well off the pace. Kobe crossed for nine tries while managing to keep the Brave Lupus scoreless. Japan international centre Timothy Lafaele scored two of the tries while barnstorming number eight Taumua Naeta added another five pointer to his season’s tally. The scintillating Naeta was also the man of the match. Dan Carter chipped in with six conversions.