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Quade Cooper makes bizarre cameo to qualify for key matches

JAPAN LEAGUE ONE, ROUND 16 WRAP: Quade Cooper’s long-awaited comeback for Kintetsu Liners proved tactical, and lasted for just one minute as the regular season of Japan Rugby League One was completed.


In front of a surprised crowd, the Wallabies star left the field as soon as the first stoppage in play, straight after the kick-off at Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Osaka on Saturday.

Kintetsu made the unusual move due to the competition rules, which state a player must feature in at least one game of the regular season to be eligible for the two-legged Replacement Battle.

The Wallaby star, who was returning after rupturing his achilles tendon in August, was not hurt in contact and left the field unaided, with a quizzical look on his face.

Although Cooper is now eligible for his side’s first game of the promotion/relegation series on May 7, the ploy didn’t help Kintetsu as they tumbled to a 26-43 defeat against the Green Rockets, for whom Wallaby scrumhalf Nick Phipps was a try-scorer.

The loss confirmed Kintetsu’s place as Division One wooden spooners.

This means Cooper, and his long-time halves partner Will Genia, now face former Test teammate Israel Folau in the survival contest, after Urayasu D-Rocks beat Wallaby fullback Tom Banks’ Heat to secure top seeding from Division Two for the series.


Folau was also on the comeback trail, having not played since mid-January, but he made a successful return, playing the final 30 minutes for D-Rocks.

Despite two tries from Banks, Urayasu maintained their unbeaten record for the season.

Former Wallaby flank Liam Gill matched his countryman’s effort, with his double leading D-Rocks to a convincing 48-28 win.

The third of the relegation ties will see Matt Toomua and Curtis Rona’s Sagamihara Dynaboars play Aichi.


The former Wallaby pairing and their Dynaboars teammates will take some confidence into that series after recovering from a 24-point halftime deficit against Black Rams Tokyo.

Sagamihara closed to 24-21 before former England loose forward Nathan Hughes scored his third try of the game to get the Black Rams home 31-21.

The Fijian-born Hughes, who is now eligible for his homeland, has been in dominant form and scored nine tries in his final five games of the season, to put himself on the radar of Fiji coach Simon Raiwalui.

At the top of the table, Wallaby wing Marika Koroibete was a try-scorer as Saitama Wild Knights beat Brave Lupus Tokyo 34-22 to eliminate Todd Blackadder’s team from the playoffs, while securing top seeding for Robbie Deans and his men.

The first semifinal is on May 13 where Saitama will play Springbok Faf de Klerk’s Yokohama Eagles, who beat Kobelco Kobe Steelers 52-26.

Springbok centre Jesse Kriel and leading try-scorer Burua both crossed the line for tries.

Inoke’s was the 13th of his first season in Japan, with the 23-year-old uncapped Fijian looking a real find for each of Yokohama and, potentially, the Brave Blossoms.

Kriel’s try was his seventh for the year, illustrating how the Springbok centre has become a major influence in his second season with the Eagles.

Semifinal fixtures:

Wild Knights v Yokohama Eagles
Kubota Spears v Suntory Sungoliath

Round 16 Division One Results:

Brave Lupus Tokyo 22-34 Saitama Wild Knights

Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay 39-24 Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath

Sagamihara Dynaboars 31-21 Black Rams Tokyo

Hanazono Liners 26-43 Green Rockets Tokatsu

Blue Revs 27-37 Verblitz

Kobe Steelers 26-52 Yokohama Eagles

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