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Israel Folau's Shining Arcs fall to defeat against Kubota Spears

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)

Former Wallabies star Israel Folau has failed to keep his unbeaten return to rugby union alive as his Shining Arcs side fell to defeat against the Kubota Spears on Saturday.

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Fresh after his man-of-the-match performance in his side’s season-opening win over the Kobelco Kobe Steelers last Saturday, Folau was impressive but had his attacking output limited by Kubota in a scrappy Tokyo derby.

The fixture was plagued by handling errors as neither team could capitalise on the good field position they often worked themselves into, with Kubota prevailing by a scoreline of 19-9.

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Only one try was scored throughout the entirety of the fixture, with Tongan blindside flanker Finau Tupa crashing over from a well-worked lineout move.

Kubota could well have landed the decisive blow about 10 minutes from full-time when first-five Timoshi Kishioka, who started at No 10 in place of ex-Wallabies pivot Bernard Foley, picked off a Shining Arcs pass on his own 22 metre mark.

Kishioka didn’t have the pace to canter in from 80 metres out, though, as South African midfielder Shane Gates chopped him down in a firm tackle at the opposite 22.

The visitors then had another chance to score in the dying minutes of the game as their forward pack stamped their authority over their Shining Arcs counterparts.

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However, the boot of South African fullback Gerhard van den Heever guided them safety as he added 14 points from the tee to outscore his goal-kicking opposite Otere Black.

As such, Kubota – whose standouts included Kishioka and Brave Blossoms flanker Lappies Labuschagne – have rocketed to the summit of the League One top division standings.

Their rise up the table comes after they were awarded an automatic bonus-point victory as a result of their cancelled season-opener against the Saitama Wild Knights due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the opposition squad last week.

By contrast, the Shining Arcs remain in sixth place ahead of next week’s home clash against the Green Rockets Tokatsu. Kubota, meanwhile, will travel to Kobe to take on the seventh-placed Steelers.

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Kubota Spears 19 (Try to Finau Tupa; conversion and 4 penalties to Gerhard van den Heever)

Shining Arcs 9 (3 penalties to Otere Black)

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finn 23 minutes ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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