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Foley thrashed, All Black icons score in first round of Japanese rugby season

By AAP
Cheslin Kolbe of Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath is tackled by Takeo Suenaga (R) and Bernard Foley (bottom) of Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay during the NTT Japan Rugby League One match between Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay and Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath at Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground on December 10, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Toru Hanai/Getty Images)

The title defence of Wallaby Bernard Foley’s Kubota Spears Tokyo Bay in Japan’s club rugby has got off to the worst possible start in a 52-26 thrashing from Tokyo Sungoliath.

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Despite beating Sungoliath three times last season en route to a maiden League One title, the Spears were blown off the park in the first half on Sunday, which ended with Sungoliath ahead 35-7.

Last year’s leading try-scorer, Sungoliath winger Seiya Ozaki, bagged a first half hat-trick, while his younger brother, centre Taiga, later scored twice, as the family contributed five of the eight tries.

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Stormers coach John Dobson previews his team’s Round One Champions Cup encounter with Leicester Tigers

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Stormers coach John Dobson previews his team’s Round One Champions Cup encounter with Leicester Tigers

South African Frans Ludeke, who coaches the Spears, is vying with former Australian coach Eddie Jones, who is a consultant at Sungoliath, for the vacant Japan position, with both reportedly interviewed for the role last week.

Saitama Wild Knights, who the Spears edged by two points in last year’s championship game, also scored eight tries as they outclassed last season’s third-placed getter, Yokohama Eagles, 53-12, at Kumagaya.

Match Summary

0
Penalty Goals
1
7
Tries
2
3
Conversions
2
1
Drop Goals
0
139
Carries
116
13
Line Breaks
4
18
Turnovers Lost
9
4
Turnovers Won
8

Former Waikato Chiefs flanker Lachlan Boshier scored twice for the Robbie Deans-coached Wild Knights while the Australian-born Japanese representatives, centre Dylan Riley and flanker Ben Gunter, also scored tries.

Such was the Wild Knights’ dominance, the former Australia mentor did not require Wallaby winger Marika Koroibete, who watched on as an unused substitute.

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Another former Wallaby coach made a spectacular start to his time in Japan yesterday as Dave Rennie’s Kobelco Kobe Steelers swamped newly promoted Mie Honda Heat in an 80-15 victory.

Rennie’s men scored 12 tries, eight in the second period, with new Kobe skipper Brodie Retallick and former international Ardie Savea grabbing two each, while their All Black colleague Ardie Savea also scored in the rout.

Heat featured the former Wallaby Tom Banks.

Match Summary

1
Penalty Goals
0
8
Tries
2
5
Conversions
1
0
Drop Goals
0
124
Carries
141
14
Line Breaks
6
8
Turnovers Lost
20
6
Turnovers Won
4

Banks’ former Australian teammate Will Genia was a try-scorer at Kanagawa, but it wasn’t enough as Hanazono Liners were denied by a last-minute goal from Englishman James Grayson in a 30-29 loss to a Mitsubishi Sagamihara Dynaboars side that had ex-Wallaby centre Curtis Rona amongst its try-scorers.

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Kintetsu were without Wallaby star Quade Cooper.

In Division One, Aussie Peter Hewat’s Ricoh Black Rams Tokyo fell 15-8 to a star-studded Toyota Verblitz line-up featuring All Blacks Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett.

Wallaby Samu Kerevi’s debut for new club Urayasu D-Rocks didn’t go to plan as last year’s runaway Division Two champions were trumped 31-28 by ex-Wales coach Wayne Pivac’s NEC Green Rockets Tokatsu. Aussies Nick Phipps (Dynaboars) and Liam Gill (Urayasu) scored tries.

Queenslander Matt Cockbain’s Red Hurricanes Osaka beat fellow promoted side Kyuden Voltex 26-22.

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Flankly 10 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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