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Bok centre returns with a bang

JAPAN RUGBY LEAGUE ONE WRAP: Springbok centre Jesse Kriel made an encouraging return to duty on Saturday.

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He came off the bench to score as the Eagles ran in four second-half tries without reply in a 43-19 win over the Sagamihara Dynaboars, which was enough to confirm back-to-back semifinals following the Steelers’ subsequent 29-39 defeat to the Spears.

Sagamihara went try-for-try with the Eagles in the opening period, with the second of wing Ben Paltridge’s five-pointers giving his side the lead after half an hour.

A try two minutes later by Shunta Nakamura turned the tide, levelling the game at the break, before the Eagles hooker crossed the goal-line twice more after play resumed, completing his second hat-trick of the season in the 56th minute.

The 30-year-old’s treble helped overturn a 14-19 deficit, with the Eagles ahead 29-19 by the time Nakamura had completed his try-scoring ‘work’.

Kriel, who had been out since mid-January due to a broken thumb, made his reappearance in the 54th minute, and was a try-scorer 14 minutes later, pushing the Eagles beyond two scores, while also setting up a try-scoring bonus point.

While Kobe weren’t eliminated until Sunday’s defeat, the Eagles’ 10th win of the season had already administered the final blow to the slim semifinal chances of Verblitz, Blue Revs and the Spears.

Lood scores two

Saturday’s other match saw the Wild Knights clinch the top qualifying spot from the regular season for the fourth time since the Japanese game resumed after Covid following an impressive 40-7 win over Verblitz.

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Springbok lock Lood de Jager and Wallaby wing Marika Koroibete were both double try-scorers.

The Robbie Deans-coached side overwhelmed the Steve Hansen-trained Verblitz 40-7, continuing the former Wallaby coaches’ dominance over the former All Black mentor.

Steve Hansen (Verblitz) has not beaten Robbie Deans (Wild Knights) in seven attempts since joining Verblitz after the 2019 World Cup, with an average losing margin of 20 points in those games.

Despite fielding the star international quartet of the All Black halves Beauden Barrett and Aaron Smith, Springbok loose forward Pieter Steph du Toit, as well as Brave Blossoms loose forward and captain Kazuki Himeno, they were outclassed by the Wild Knights.

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De Jager and Koroibete scored two first-half tries as the Wild Knights motored to a 26-7 half-time lead, with the defeat even more galling for the home side due to managing just one try and being held scoreless for the final 50 minutes.

Tokyo Sungoliath needed a penalty goal four minutes from time by flyhalf Mikiya Takamoto to salvage a 31-31 draw with the Blue Revs on Friday, but it proved enough to confirm a semifinal place after Kobe’s subsequent defeat.

An understrength Brave Lupus Tokyo narrowly beat the Heat 8-7 on Sunday, while Quade Cooper’s Hanazono Liners recorded their first win of the season in upsetting Black Rams Tokyo 34-23 in Division One’s other matches.

Former Wallaby lock Rory Arnold gained a reward for sticking with his Japanese club after they were forced to drop out of the league last year, as the Red Dolphins lifted the Division Three title with a 59-41 win over an Akishima side coached by another former Wallaby forward Wycliff Palu.

Japan Rugby League One Results – Round 14

Division One:

Friday, April 19:
Tokyo Sungoliath 31-31 Blue Revs

Saturday, April 20:

Willd Knights 40-7 Verblitz
Yokohama Eagles 43-19 Sagamihara Dynaboars

Sunday, April 21:
Brave Lupus Tokyo 8-7 Heat
Spears 39-29 Kobe Steelers
Liners 34-23 Black Rams Tokyo

Division Two:

Friday, April 19:
Red Hurricanes Osaka 21-18 Seawaves

Saturday, April 20:
D-Rocks 57-20 Aichi 20

Division Three:

Saturday, April 20:
Red Dolphins 59-41 Akishima

Sunday, April 21:
Blue Sharks 21-20 Red Regulions

Additional source: AAP

 

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