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Cruden beats Foley in No 10 clash as Koroibete wins in League One debut

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)

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Former All Blacks first-five Aaron Cruden edged ex-Wallabies pivot Bernard Foley in an all-star battle between the two playmakers in Japan Rugby League One over the weekend.

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Cruden and Foley were pitted against each other when the Kobelco Kobe Steelers hosted the Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay on Saturday.

Cruden walked away with the victory as Kobelco ran out 27-22 victors in a tight contest at Noevir Stadium, with the 50-test All Black providing seven points off the kicking tee and playing a role in Rakuhei Yamashita’s first half try with some slick distribution skills.

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Despite his side’s defeat, Foley also played a prominent role for Kubota as the 71-test international contributed nine points from the boot, although he had a 74th minute conversion attempt charged down from just under 20 metres out.

The match also saw former Blues lock Gerard Cowley-Tuioti cross for his first try in Japanese rugby since joining Kobelco following last year’s Super Rugby season.

The latest round of League One action also saw Wallabies star Marika Koroibete make his long-awaited Saitama Wild Knights debut after his side’s first two scheduled fixtures were cancelled due to Covid-19.

Koroibete didn’t manage to score in his first League One appearance, but he helped the reigning champions secure a comprehensive 27-3 victory over the Yokohama Canon Eagles in Kumagaya.

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The 42-test wing had one involvement in a try-scoring play as he threw an audacious offload while being bundled into touch to help set-up Australian-born Brave Blossoms rookie Dylan Riley for a try near the end of the first half.

A break by Koroibete on the back of a midfield scrum feed just inside enemy territory then instigated another try midway through the second half.

Koroibete and ex-Chiefs flanker Lachlan Boshier, another Wild Knights debutant, shovelled the ball between each other to set former Welsh international Hadleigh Parkes away for a try in the left-hand corner.

The wins for the Wild Knights and Steelers lift both teams, who are considered to be title frontrunners, out of the Division 1 relegation zone heading into round four.

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Elsewhere throughout the league, Wallabies pivot Quade Cooper starred as the Hanazono Kintetsu Liners put the Mie Honda Heat to the sword in their 62-10 Division 2 victory in Osaka on Saturday.

That result pushes Kintetsu into a promotion-relegation play-off spot, where they are joined by the Mitsubishi Sagamihara Dynaboars and the Hino Red Dolphins after their hefty wins over the Skyactivs Hiroshima and Kamaishi Seawaves, respectively.

Meanwhile, in Division 3, the Kyuden Voltex came away from their clash with the Shimizu Blue Revs as 17-12 winners, while the Munakata Sanix Blues overcame the Chugoku Red Regulions with a 17-15 victory.

In total, only seven of the 12 League One fixtures scheduled to take place across all three divisions in round three took place as Covid outbreaks forced the cancellation and postponement of the other five matches.

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