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Bok duo to help Wild Knights overcome bogey team

JAPAN LEAGUE ONE PREVIEW: For whatever reason, Wild Knights – current Japan Rugby League One log leaders, and six-time champions of Japan – always have trouble with Blue Revs.

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This is not a fact that will have escaped Robbie Deans and his men as they prepare for another trip to Yamaha Stadium, the scene of last-minute escapes on each of their two most recent visits.

Then, of course, is their most recent meeting last season when the Blue Revs ransacked Kumagaya.

Their emphatic 44-25 victory ended not only five years of post-pandemic supremacy at home but a 47-game undefeated sequence at all venues by the Wild Knights.

Deans has never really ‘done’ revenge throughout his long and title-laden career, but the fact that he will take a powerful muster fuel by Springboks duo Lood de Jager and Damian De Allende to Shizuoka says all that it needs to, ahead of a contest of immense importance for the competition leaders as their last hit out before meeting the only other unbeaten outfit in the league, Brave Lupus, in just over a week’s time.

Having lost a ‘try-fest’ to Dynaboars last weekend, when a win could have catapulted them into the top four, the Blue Revs must regroup after that let down, and will be drawing on last year’s stunning success, as they bid to close the gap on the seven teams currently ranked above them on the championship ladder.

Saturday’s Shizuoka match is one of several features as Japan Rugby League One returns to business as usual, with
round eight the competition’s first full schedule of matches since the end of January when the league pushed the
pause button to cater for The Cross Border Rugby.

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Eagles, who are in danger of losing touch with the semifinal positions, will be looking for a reboot when they open the weekend against bottom-placed Mie Heat in a rare Friday night fixture.

With back-to-back losses to Kobe Steelers and Brave Lupus having dropped last year’s semifinalists to seventh on a congested log, victory against one of the league’s two winless outfits is a non-negotiable to begin the process of recovering the lost ground.

Seven wins in as many starts means Brave Lupus have no such problems as, 24 hours later, they travel to the home of the second of the division’s winless outfit, Liners.

Toyota Verblitz will also be in Osaka for a Sunday date with Kobe Steelers which is shaping as one of the most important games of the season thus far.

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Fifth and sixth on the table, level on points, and with just three separating them on the point’s differentials, every
statistic available suggests plenty of entertainment and a tight contest.

Division One’s other Sunday kick off sees Kubota Spears welcome Dynaboars to Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium where history and form suggest plenty of points are in store.

Kubota beat Mitsubishi 60-22 last term, with the sides sharing 11 tries.

They scored 16 between them just last weekend, with Sagamihara totalling seven during a mad-cap 53-45 win over Blue Revs where tackling appeared ‘optional’, while the Spears had nine to show from their afternoon runaround with Kintetsu.

The defending champions entered the top four for the first time after last weekend’s win and will know the state of play on the point’s table once they begin, with third-placed Suntory Sungoliath having engaged Black Rams, the day before.

Valiant in defeat two weeks ago against old rivals the Wild Knights, Suntory will be expected to beat a Black Rams
outfit who fought bravely, albeit unsuccessfully, during last weekend’s 10-point loss to Kobe.

The two sides met once last term, and while that contest was close too, the omens are not good for Ricoh to
claim just their second win of the campaign, with Suntory having prevailed 18-7 on that occasion.

Central to the Black Rams’ problems has been a lack of tries, and poor discipline, with the latter a recurring theme
in recent seasons: only the bottom two have given away more than their 77 penalties, while only Honda has
scored less than their 17 tries.

Japan Rugby League One Fixtures Round Eight – (all kick-offs Japan Time)

Division One: 

Friday, March 1
Mie Heat v Yokohama Eagles (19.00)

Saturday, March 2
Kintetsu Liners v Brave Lupus (12.00)
Blue Revs v Wild Knights (14.00)
Suntory Sungoliath v Black Rams (14.05)

Sunday, March 3
Spears v Sagamihara Dynaboars (14.30)
Steelers v Toyota Verblitz (14.30)

Division Two

Saturday March 2
Voltex v Aichi (14.30)

Sunday March 3
Seawaves v NEC Green Rockets (12.00)
Red Hurricanes v D-Rocks (13.00)

Division Three

Saturday March 2
SkyActivs Hiroshima v Blue Sharks (13.00)
Red Dolphins v Red Regulions (13.00)

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