Kwagga double not enough to beat Faf in Japan
ROUND 10 WRAP: Two World Cup-winning Springboks shared the spoils when their teams went head-to-head in Round 10 of Japan’s League One at the weekend.
Francois de Klerk’s Yokohama Eagles remained fourth in the First Division standings, although they required a late try by wing Masayoshi Takezawa to grab a share of the spoils.
A lion-hearted effort by De Klerk’s Springbok teammate Albertus Smith almost allowed his Blue Revs to score a major upset in a contest that finished 22-22.
Two tries by Smith were not enough to get the Blue Revs home, as the side was pegged back by the Eagles in the final stages and forced to settle for its second draw of the season.
Against fourth-placed Eagles, the Blue Revs had overturned an 8-15 half-time deficit by scoring the next 14 points, only to concede quickly after they had taken the lead, which allowed the Eagles to tie the scores.
Smith’s second try, scored in the 71st minute, had pushed the Blue Revs ahead 22-15, but the lead lasted for just two minutes before Masayoshi Takezawa replied for Canon.
Although replacement flyhalf Junpei Ogura converted to tie the scores, he missed a penalty attempt in the 79th minute which would have given the Eagles all four competition points.
Yokohama’s stumble was capitalised on by fifth-placed Brave Lupus Tokyo, who closed its gap to the Eagles to eight log points after hammering the Kobe Steelers.
The defeat saw the Steelers drop two places, being overtaken by both the Sagamihara Dynaboars and Black Rams after their winning performances against Kintetsu Liners and Green Rockets Tokatsu respectively.
* Meanwhile a masterly 25-point performance by flyhalf Takuya Yamasawa, fended off the challenge of the previously unbeaten Spears, allowing the Wild Knights to remain unbeaten.
Man of the match in last year’s grand Final and a try-scorer during the Brave Blossoms’ gallant performance in defeat by New Zealand in October, the 28-year-old is rated by many astute judges in Japan as the most influential player in the league.
He showed just why, completely overshadowing his Wallaby opponent Bernard Foley, as the Wild Knights came from two points down at halftime to record a decisive 30-15 victory.
Yamasawa scored two of his side’s three tries, both from long range, kicked five from five off the goalkicking tee, and slotted a pivotal second-half drop-goal which killed off the Spears’ hopes after they had threatened to mount a comeback.
The win extended Saitama’s remarkable on-field unbeaten sequence to 43, of which 42 were victories.
As well as being the fourth time that the Spears had fallen in this run, the performance also sent out a stern warning to the side the Wild Knights beat in last year’s final, Sungoliath, whom they meet in Tokyo on Match Day 11.
Sungoliath were unable to take advantage of the Spears’ defeat, being upset 27-20 by an inspired Verblitz, leaving the Wild Knights with a seven-point lead on the championship table ahead of the Spears who stay in second place.
* D-Rocks continued their rampage through Division Two blitzing the totally out-gunned Blue Sharks, while the Division Three leaders Red Hurricanes and Kyuden Voltex both won comfortably in Hiroshima to retain their places at the top of the section standings.
Round 10 results
EAGLES 22 BLUE REVS 22
BLACK RAMS 54 GREEN ROCKETS 7
BRAVE LUPUS 51 KOBE STEELERS 12
WILD KNIGHTS 30 SPEARS 15
DYNABOARS 38 KINTETSU LINERS 29
VERBLITZ 27 SUNGOLIATH 20