Boks flex their muscles in Japan
JAPAN LEAGUE ONE, ROUND 12 WRAP: Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx helped the Spears overpower the Faf de Klerk’s Eagles 15-5 in driving rain on Saturday, in a playoff-style battle that headlined Matchday 12 of Japan Rugby League One.
Such was the discipline of the Spears, and the territorial dominance they maintained for much of the contest, that crack Eagles goalkicker Yu Tamura was denied a single shot on goal until a conversion attempt in the 78th minute, by which time the Eagles’ fate had already been settled.
Despite defending stoutly, the Eagles’ fortifications were finally breached two minutes before half-time, when Marx rumbled across from a line-out drive that travelled over 20 metres.
The try was the ninth of the season for the Springbok, who is the leading try-scorer among forwards in the league, two ahead of Eagles’ loose forward Amanaki Lelei Mafi.
Marx is third overall on the individual try-scoring table, albeit nine behind the runaway leader, Seiya Ozaki.
The win ensured the Spears stayed on the tail of the league-leading Wild Knights, although the two-time defending champions’ bonus-point 61-29 win over Sagamihara Dynaboars on Sunday saw the gap between one and two on the championship table widened to seven points.
Springbok midfielder Damien de Allende and his midfield partner, the Brave Blossoms’ former Australian Under-20 centre Dylan Riley, were among the try-scorers for the Wild Knights.
Suntory Sungoliath took advantage of the Eagles’ defeat, returning to third after a comfortable win 64-12 over winless Hanazono Liners.
Fifth-placed Brave Lupus Tokyo also benefited, closing their deficit on the ladder to three points with a 19-18 win over Verblitz.
Chasing three-in-a-row, the visitors led throughout but Verblitz were kept in the game by star Springbok Pieter-Steph du Toit, whose first two tries of the season ensured Brave Lupus couldn’t get away on his side.
The South African scored in the 31st and 65th minutes setting up a nail-biting finish.
Sunday’s other match saw the Steelers climb above the Dynaboars after a 59-26 win over Green Rockets Tokatsu, who are now 13 points away from ninth, where they would need to finish to avoid dropping into the end-of-season relegation battle.
The Blue Revs took a major step towards avoiding the same fate by coming from behind to score a much-needed 19-15 win over the Black Rams Tokyo, despite former England loose forward Nathan Hughes scoring twice for the defeated side.
The Division Two title is set to be decided next weekend when Urayasu D-Rocks host Mie Honda Heat in what has become a straight out final.
With Urayasu holding a massive points differential advantage, Honda must score three or more tries than D Rocks, and deny the current league-leaders a bonus point, to win the division.
Both teams are already assured of featuring in the promotion/relegation series.
The Red Hurricanes and the Kyuden Voltex continue to dominate Division Three, with both sides recording wins over the weekend.
Division One Results:
Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath 64-12 Hanazono Liners
Black Rams Tokyo 15-19 Blue Revs
Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay 15-5 Yokohama Eagles
Verblitz 18-19 Brave Lupus Tokyo
Sagamihara Dynaboars 29-61 Wild Knights
Steelers 59-26 Green Rockets Tokatsu