Damian McKenzie bags a hat-trick and 31 points as Suntory stroll to victory
All Blacks star Damian McKenzie has produced a masterclass performance in Japan Rugby League One, scoring a hat-trick and 31 points as Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath thumped Kobelco Kobe Steelers 56-17 in Tokyo.
The result, their seventh of the season, has propelled Suntory top the summit of the League One table, and the Sungoliath will have McKenzie to thank for their rise back to the top of the competition.
The 26-year-old fullback was at his sublime best at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, where he scored the first of his trio of tries in the 17th minute, breaking the Kobelco defence and combining with Seiya Ozaki to score out on the right wing.
Shortly after the half-hour mark, McKenzie latched onto a Ryoto Nakamura grubber kick inside the opposition in-goal area and dot down to extend his side’s lead to 28-5.
The 40-test international then rounded out his hat-trick when some stunning interlinking play by the Suntory backs put McKenzie away with a clean run to the line midway through the second half.
In addition to his three tries, McKenzie walked away with an unblemished goal-kicking record, slotting all eight of his side’s conversion attempts.
Furthermore, he came up with a clutch, last-gasp try-saving tackle on Kobelco lock JD Schickerling, who looked set to score after breaking away down the left-hand flank, and even assisted a Tevtia Li try in injury time.
That try was Li’s third, meaning he joined McKenzie in scoring a hat-trick, while Wallabies midfielder and 2021 World Rugby Player of the Year nominee Samu Kerevi also crossed for a try of his own early in the first half.
McKenzie’s personal points haul was one point shy of the League One record, which is held by Nemani Nadolo, who scored 32 points while playing for the NEC Green Rockets against the Honda Heat in the 2011 Top League.
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