Try-scoring machine Marx massive for Spears
ROUND 11 WRAP: Malcolm Marx extended his try tally to eight from ten appearances for the Spears in their 40-27 win over the Blue Revs in Round 11 of the Japan Rugby League One over the weekend.
First-half tries by South African-born Japanese representative Pieter ‘Lappies’ Labuschagne and Marx helped set up a 19-3 lead after 20 minutes, which gave Kubota a stranglehold that was only briefly threatened.
Finishing with six tries to three allowed the Spears to score a bonus point on top of the win, giving themselves a valuable five-point advantage over third-placed Yokohama Canon Eagles, and six over Sungoliath, whom they will meet in what looms as a pivotal game for both clubs on the final weekend of qualifying.
As well as Marx’s eighth try from 10 appearances this term, 10 points from Wallaby flyhalf Bernard Foley kept his
personal tally ticking over, with the league’s leading point-scorer finishing the match with 138 for the season.
Both players have been hugely influential to date in Kubota’s performance
*The Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights maintained their dominance over arch-rivals Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath winning the headline game of the round, 41-29, in front of nearly 20,000 fans.
Despite missing star Wallaby winger Marika Koroibete, who was on bereavement leave, the two-time defending champions still had too many guns for the side they defeated in the last two finals, even after Sungoliath made the stronger start by scoring the game’s first two tries.
Sungoliath’s defeat allowed Yokohama Canon Eagles to overtake them in third on the point’s table today after a dramatic 41-21 win at Sagamihara where the home side led by 16 at halftime before collapsing.
*Sunday also saw a courageous performance by Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo, who beat NEC Green Rockets Tokatsu 49-20 despite playing 71 minutes with 14 men after prop Latu Taufa was sent off.
*Elsewhere there were wins for Ricoh Black Rams Tokyo and Toyota Verblitz continuing the good run being enjoyed by both clubs.
Alongside the Wild Knights, first-season club Urayasu D-Rocks remain the only other unbeaten side in Japan Rugby League One, and the Division Two leaders continued their rampage, overwhelming bottom club Kamaishi Seawaves 92-19.
Mie Honda Heat remain second after overcoming Shimizu Corporation Koto Blue Sharks 39-17.
*The Kobelco Kobe Steelers are officially in free fall.
Friday night’s defeat by the Ricoh Black Rams Tokyo dropped the 2018 champions to ninth on the championship ladder, just two weeks after they had held sixth.
Even worse, it confirmed there would be no playoffs for the Steelers this year, with the priority now to avoid being sucked into the relegation battle, where the threatened positions are currently occupied by the Shizuoka Blue Revs, NEC Green Rockets Tokatsu and Hanazono Kintetsu Liners.
After an even first half, which ended with the Tokyo-based side ahead 10-5, the Black Rams blew the game open in the third quarter, adding two converted tries to jump to a 19-point advantage.
While Kobe finally responded entering the final 20 minutes with a try by Brave Blossoms’ loose forward Amanaki Saumaki, any hopes they might have still held were killed off when the former Queensland Reds utility Matt McGahan bagged Ricoh’s fourth with 15 minutes remaining.
*Toyota Verblitz may have left their run too late to reach the semi-finals but there is certainly much to admire about the way Steve Hansen’s men are playing now as they comfortably swatted aside a willing but out-classed Hanazono Kintetsu Liners to record their third win from the last four outings.
While the home side was brave, and trailed by just four after 25 minutes, the pattern of their so far winless season repeated, with periods of competitiveness bookmarked by minutes where they were totally overwhelmed.
So, it was against Verblitz, with Toyota extending a 14-10 lead to 28-10 in the final 12 minutes of the first half, before piling on six more tries in the second period to run away with the game.
*A magnificent rally saw Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo overcome the loss of prop Latu Taufa to a red card in the ninth minute, and halfback Jack Stratton for 10 minutes in the 34th, and still get the job done against NEC Green Rockets Tokatsu.
Todd Blackadder’s men, who were bidding for back-to-back wins to keep their playoffs hopes alive, looked in trouble when their prop was marched for dangerous play while the game was still scoreless.
Down a man, Brave Lupus lived up to their name, and had still established a two-try, nine-point, advantage when Stratton saw yellow after the concession of a series of penalties by his side.
The Green Rockets scored twice against the remaining 13, and Toshiba’s prospects looked precarious when their numbers returned to 14, with the Green Rockets ahead 20-18 and 36 minutes still to play.
Brave Lupus scored twice while the former Crusader was off the field to turn a two-point deficit into a 12-point lead and grab back the momentum decisively.
Although Toshiba’s 12-point buffer was not insurmountable at the 60-minute mark, the Green Rockets’ race was run, and Brave Lupus added two further tries before the end, raising their tally for the game to six.
This secured a valuable bonus point to keep them within six points of the top four on the championship standings.
*In Division Two league leaders Urayasu D-Rocks illustrated the massive gap between the top and bottom of the Division Two table when they romped to a 73-point win at Kamaishi Seawaves’ expense.
*In Division Three, NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes pulled clear at the top-of-the-table after accounting for Kurita Water Gush Akishima, while Mazda Skyactivs Hiroshima took out the city’s second derby game of the season.
Results of round 11:
RICOH BLACK RAMS TOKYO 41 KOBELCO KOBE STEELERS 26
SAITAMA PANASONIC WILD KNIGHTS 41 TOKYO SUNTORY SUNGOLIATH 29
KUBOTA SPEARS FUNABASHI TOKYO BAY 40 SHIZUOKA BLUE REVS 27
TOYOTA VERBLITZ 62 HANAZONO KINTETSU LINERS 24
TOSHIBA BRAVE LUPUS TOKYO 49 NEC GREEN ROCKETS TOKATSU 20
YOKOHAMA CANON EAGLES 41 MITSUBISHI HEAVY INDUSTRIES SAGAMIHA DYNABOARS 21