Lood continues strong comeback after illness
JAPAN LEAGUE ONE WRAP: The Robbie Deans-coached Wild Knights continued their dominance in Japan as they romped to a 70-12 win over the Heat on Saturday.
The Wild Knights, who will play the Chiefs in their next outing on February 4 as part of the new Cross Border Rugby series between New Zealand and Japan, showed they will be a handful for the Super Rugby side by plundering 10 tries.
The ruthless showing gives the six-time Japanese champions a firm grip on top spot in the standings.
Of particular interest to new Wallaby coach Joe Schmidt will have been the performance of star wing Marika Koroibete, who accounted for two of the Wild Knights’ tries.
Being used as a finisher this season, the 31-year-old entered the game on the hour mark. He had a try within moments of taking the field and added another 10 minutes later.
Springbok lock Lood de Jager, on the comeback trail after missing the World Cup due to illness, got the party started with his second try in as many weeks.
While the Wild Knights made light work of Heat, the Eddie Jones-advised Tokyo Sungoliath – who will play the Blues as part of the international series – needed a late try to pip the Dynaboars 36-34.
Smarting after last week’s embarrassing 60-point loss to the Wild Knights, the Dynaboars scored four tries in the opening 15 minutes, by the end of which had them leading 26-0.
All Black loose forward Jackson Hemopo was among the scorers, crossing for his fourth try from the last three weeks, while the former Blues back from Super Rugby, Matt Vaega, also scored for the second week in a row.
A further penalty goal by former England age-grade representative James Grayson made it 29 points in 22 minutes, and it took 28 minutes of playing time before the visitor’s finally troubled the scoreboard attendants, when Australian-born lock Trevor Hosea scored Sungoliath’s first try.
The addition of a second, by last year’s leading try-scorer Seiya Ozaki, meant that half-time came with the Dynaboars still in charge by 15, but the momentum having swung Sungoliath’s way.
This continued as the second half began, with further life breathed into Sungoliath hopes when the All Blacks’ World Cup skipper Sam Cane crossed for his second try in as many weeks.
With Sagamihara suddenly under pressure, it looked as if the game had become irretrievably lost when a penalty goal by Mikiya Takamoto, and his conversion of a try by Yutaka Nagare, meant Sungoliath went ahead for the first time, having scored 31 unanswered points in 36 minutes.
Although it took the Dynaboars 33 minutes of the second half to register a point, their fifth try of the afternoon, which was scored by centre Joichiro Iwashita, appeared to have wrestled the decision in their favour as the clock ticked on, and went beyond the 80th minute.
Sagamihara nearly had grabbed the game back too, but Suntory kept coming and their persistence was rewarded when centre Shogo Nakano, who was making his first appearance of the season, marked it with a try in the third minute of referee’s time to steal the win at the end of a remarkable afternoon.
After a disappointing defeat by SkyActivs last weekend, the Blue Sharks jumped above their Hiroshima-based rivals on the points table in Division Three after comfortably accounting for Akishima on Saturday.
The Blue Sharks’ 18-point victory was rarely in doubt, even after a decent rally from Akishima who scored tries either side of half-time to close to within five points.
Having scored 25 points in the opening 30 minutes to take charge of the contest, the Blue Sharks then scored the game’s final two tries to ease to a 38-20 final scoreline.
Hooker Naomichi Tatekawa scored a try in each half for the Blue Sharks while their South African-born fullback Coenraad van Wyk weighed in with 18 points for the second week running.
The profitable two weeks means Van Wyk is now the leading point-scorer in the grade with 45, 12 ahead of Simon Hickie, although he has played a match more.
Saturday, January 20
Wild Knights 70-12 Mie Honda Heat
Tokyo Sungoliath 36-34 Sagamihara Dynaboars
Saturday, January 20
Blue Sharks 38-20 Akishima
Additional reporting: AAP