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Bok trio open Japan league campaigns with big wins

JAPAN LEAGUE WRAP: Three Springboks stars kicked off their Japan League One careers in fine fashion.


Damian de Allende made his League One debut for Wild Knights, who claimed a hard-fought 22-19 win against Brave Lupus.

Faf de Klerk and Marcell Coetzee also made their debuts for opposing sides as Canon Eagles beat Kobe Steel 39-30 in a thrilling encounter.

While, Pieter-Steph du Toit put in a solid performance  Toyota Verblitz in a victory over the A Blue Revs.

Saturday, December 17


At Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo former England backrower Nathan Hughes’ Japan Rugby League One debut ended in defeat as the Black Rams were successfully ambushed by the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Sagamihara Dynaboars at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in the season opener.


The Dynaboars had won just once during the whole season when they were last in the top division two years ago.

The win gave Wallaby Curtis Rona a successful introduction to Japan Rugby League One.

At the other end of the scale, the 29-test former Wales’ midfield back Hadleigh Parkes experienced the first defeat of his career in Japan, having not lost a game during his two seasons at Saitama, where the Panasonic Wild Knights won the title twice.



At Aichi, Toyota Verblitz gave new head coach Ben Herring the perfect start to his tenure in an unusual victory over the Shizuoka Blue Revs, who had bounced out to a 12-0 lead after just 14 minutes thanks to two tries by winger Malo Tuitama, before conceding 31 unanswered points.

While the late burst came too late to threaten Verblitz, it did pick up a valuable bonus point for Shizuoka.


At Kumagaya Stadium, Saitama Todd Blackadder’s Toshiba Brave Lupus side must have headed home scratching their heads after history repeated almost exactly as they were downed 22-19 by the Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights at Kumagaya.

On Saturday an early try by former Brave Blossoms’ captain Michael Leitch and some accurate goal-kicking from former All Black Tom Taylor had Toshiba ahead 13-nil after 16 minutes before the home side finally stirred.

Taylor’s fourth penalty goal levelled the scores with 20 minutes remaining but – as was their way during last year’s campaign when they had trailed at halftime but come back to win on five occasions – the two-time defending champions found a way to get it done.


After going winless through the regular season of the maiden edition of Japan Rugby League One, the NEC Green Rockets Tokatsu had cause for celebration after opening season two with a two-point victory at the Hanazono Kintetsu Liners’ expense in Chiba.

It was a nervy finish for Michael Cheika though, with the club’s Australian Director of Rugby forced to watch as the Liners’ new recruit, former Hurricanes Super Rugby flyhalf Jackson Garden-Bachop, missed a 76th minute conversion that would
have tied the game.


Wallaby flyhalf Bernard Foley kicked 16 points as Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo-Bay recorded its first win over Tokyo rivals Suntory Sungoliath since it returned to the top echelon of Japanese club rugby in 2015.

Sunday’s commanding 31-18 victory ended an eight-game losing streak for the club against Suntory, two of which had come in semi-finals.

Frans Ludeke’s charges took hold of the game early and never relinquished their grip, taking a 14-6 halftime advantage thanks to a try by winger Koma Nezuka and three penalty goals from Foley. Not even a try from the Brave Blossoms’ wrecking ball backrower Tevita Tatafu could save the Sungoliath, being outdone by two second half tries from the Spears’ winger Haruto Kida, as Kubota closed out a memorable 31-18 victory.


All Black Ngani Laumape finished on the losing side in his first outing in Japan, as the Kobelco Steelers fell 39-30 to Yokohama Canon Eagles at Kanagawa.

A big name signing from the glamour Paris club, Stade Francais, Laumape’s presence was overshadowed by that of Wales’ Cory Hill, who scored the second and third tries of his career in Japan Rugby League One, in what was his 11th outing.

Both of the Grand Slam-winning second rower’s tries came after halftime, helping the Eagles to keep their noses in front, having led 15-13 at the break.

In a game marked by excellent goalkicking – between them Canon flyhalf Yu Tamura and his Kobe counterpart Seungsin Lee missed just once from 13 attempts – it was ironically Tamura’s try that made the difference.

The veteran Brave Blossoms’ star finished his afternoon with a personal tally of 24 points, and his side outscored Kobe four tries to three.


After scoring 10 tries last term, Israel Folau took just two minutes to get off the mark in the second edition of Japan Rugby League One, as the new merger club, Urayasu D-Rocks, held off a determined challenge from MIE Honda Heat to prevail
35-27 at the Suzuka Sports Garden Rugby Ground.

D-Rocks scored four tries to three but struggled to shake off the home side, who battled back to 24-24 at halftime, despite having suffered two yellow cards during a frantic first period.

At the Musashino Athletic Stadium in Tokyo, Kamaishi Seawaves Rugby Football Club rushed home with 26 points in the final 35 minutes but left their run too late after the Hino Red Dolphins had romped to a 33-0 halftime lead, with the Red Dolphins eventually running out 46-26 winners.

The Seawaves, for whom the former Blues lock from Super Rugby, Ben Nee-Nee, scored twice, were undone by two first half yellow cards, with three tries conceded while the side was short staffed.

On Sunday Les Bleus second row Yoann Maestri score a try on his debut in Japan Rugby League One, opening the scoring in the 11th minute of a see-saw contest that eventually fell the way of the Frenchman’s team, as the Toyota Industries Shuttles Aichi prevailed 30-19 over a brave Shimizu Koto Blue Sharks outfit.

The Shuttles led 15-0 after 28 minutes but were held scoreless for the next 38 minutes, as the Blue Sharks fought back to lead 19-15 with just a quarter of an hour to go.
But while an upset had been in the offing, a yellow card to the Sharks’ winger Ryota Noda with 20 minutes remaining proved costly.

By the time Noda returned, the Shuttles had scored twice to reclaim the lead, confirming victory with their fifth try of the afternoon in the final play of the match.


The NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes made a winning start to life in Division Three but needed a try in added time to beat the Kyushudenryoko Kyuden Voltex 22-18 at Osaka.

The Red Hurricanes couldn’t shake their gallant opponents, and appeared destined to mark their divisional debut with a defeat when a converted try by replacement hooker Genki Nakumura edged the Voltex ahead 18-16 with just three minutes remaining.

But the home side’s replacement winger Kenta Komura crossed in the 82nd minute to snatch the win.

The division’s other match saw Chugoku Electric Power Red Regulions gain the early bragging rights over their cross-town rivals, Mazda Skyactives Hiroshima, running out comfortable 26-7 winners.


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