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Ardie Savea caps off Japan debut with two tries in monster win

By Ben Smith
Kobelco Kobe Steelers' Ardie Savea scores a try during the NTT Japan Rugby League One match between Kobelco Kobe Steelers and Honda Heat at Noevir Stadium Kobe on December 09, 2023 in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan. (Photo by Paul Miller/Getty Images)

All Blacks loose forward Ardie Savea started his stint in Japan with monster 80-15 win as Kobelco Steelers ran rampant over Mie Honda Heat in the opening round of Japan Rugby League One.


The recently crowned World Player of the Year bagged two tries in his first appearance in the red Kobe colours, while ex-All Black lock Brodie Retallick also scored twice. Former Hurricanes teammate Ngani Laumape also got in on the action with a try.

Savea was typically dominant in contact on defence while causing havoc out in the wider channels on attack.

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He provided an assist for Retallick in similar fashion to many pick-and-go drives for the All Blacks, powering through two or three defenders before finding an offload for the lock to crash over.

A clever switch play around the ruck produced Savea’s first from a similar distance as he powered over.

A smart box kick end over end by Kobe produced an awkward bounce in the backfield. Savea climbed high to snatch the ball out of the grasp of the Honda Heat defender before running directly over him.

With the coast clear, Savea celebrated his second with a swan dive to bring up 50 for the Steelers.


In other League One debuts, Richie Mo’unga got off to a winning start with Toshiba Brave Lupus with a 43-30 win over Shizuoka Blue Revs in Charles Piutau’s debut.

Mo’unga had an off day with the tee but it didn’t matter as Fijian flyer Jone Naikabula scored a hat-trick as Brave Lupus scored six tries.

Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett guided Toyota Verblitz to a tight 15-8 win over Black Rams Tokyo. A late Tiaan Falcon penalty pushed the lead to seven which Toyota preserved for the victory.

In Sunday’s division one games, Sam Cane and Cheslin Kolbe will debut for Tokyo Sungoliath against reigning league champions Kubota Spears, while World Cup winners Faf de Klerk and Jesse Kriel return to Yokohama Canon Eagles to face Damian de Allende and the Saitama Wild Knights.


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Pecos 188 days ago

Highly paid holiday with a bit of tier 3 club rugby, nice.

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