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McMahon shines as Suntory condemn Toyota stars to League One defeat

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Toru Hanai/Getty Images)

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Springboks and All Blacks stars Pieter-Steph du Toit and Patrick Tuipulotu were condemned to a heavy defeat in their Toyota Verblitz debuts by a Sean McMahon-inspired Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath outfit on Sunday.

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The Japan Rugby League One juggernauts made it two wins from as many matches to start the season at Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo over the weekend as they ran in seven tries to score a comfortable 50-8 victory.

Two of those tries came from McMahon, the Wallabies loose forward who produced another standout showing from No 8 after his equally impressive showing in Suntory’s season-opening 60-48 win over the Toshiba Brave Lupus in round one.

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McMahon’s brace, which was completed before half-time, was good reward for the constant threat he posed with ball in hand, which caused Toyota headaches throughout the course of the fixture.

The match also saw All Blacks playmaker Damian McKenzie run in his first try for Suntory since joining the club on a season-long deal last month as he cantered in under the posts from a backline move off the back of a second half scrum.

Others to impress for Suntory included halfback Yutaka Nagare and reserve loose forward Tevita Tatafu, both of whom impressed with their contributions on attack.

The efforts of the entire Suntory side made life difficult for Toyota, who couldn’t provide star recruits Du Toit and Tuipulotu with a first-up win after their round one clash against the Shizuoka Blue Revs was cancelled due to a Covid outbreak.

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Nevertheless, Du Toit – the 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year and 2019 World Cup winner – made his presence known with several bruising ball carries, while Tuipulotu continually pestered the opposition at the lineout.

Brave Blossoms star and former Highlanders loose forward Kazuki Himeno also caught the eye frequently for Toyota, with the openside flanker’s defensive work rate and ability at the breakdown key assets for the visitors.

The match was one of only two League One fixtures to be played on Sunday, with matches between the Saitama Wild Knights and the Green Rockets Tokatsu, Black Rams Tokyo and Shizuoka Blue Revs, and Munakata Sanix Blues and Toyota Shuttles Industries all cancelled because of Covid.

Sunday’s only other match saw former All Blacks wing Matt Duffie and journeyman Australian playmaker Jono Lance combine for three tries for Mie Honda Heat as they consigned one-test All Blacks pivot Brett Cameron to a 48-24 defeat in his Kamaishi Seawaves debut.

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Earlier on Saturday, the Kubota Spears toppled Israel Folau’s Shining Arcs in a scrappy 19-9 victory in Tokyo, while ex-All Blacks flanker Matt Todd scored twice as Toshiba registered their first win of the year in a 35-19 away victory over the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes Osaka.

The only other match of the weekend saw the Canon Eagles pick up a surprise 55-21 win over the Kobelco Kobe Steelers in Yokohama.

Suntory currently lead the Division 1 standings and are equal on points with Canon and Kubota, while the Hino Red Dolphins and Shimizu Blue Sharks top Division 2 and Division 3, respectively.

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