Ngani Laumape continues to shine in Japan with another dominant performance
Former Hurricanes and All Blacks midfielder Ngani Laumape has hit the ground running in Japan Rugby League One, producing two dominant performances in his first three outings for Kobelco Kobe Steelers.
In his second appearance for the club against Hanazono Kintetsu Liners the 29-year-old bulldozed his way to a hat-trick of tries to announce his arrival in Japan with a man-of-the-match showing.
His first of the day against the Liners was a typical piece of power running from Laumape, taking a direct carry off the scrum and powering through multiple defenders before reaching out to score.
The Kintetsu Liners struggled to contain the former All Black as his destructive running laid the platform for a 58-36 win for the two-time Japan League champions.
In round three against Green Rockets Tokatsu, Laumape turned provider to set-up multiple tries for the Steelers.
After a break up the middle from prop Isileli Nakajima, the No 12 stepped into first receiver and made a perfectly placed chip kick out wide into the arms of his winger Shinsuke Iseki.
Quick hands from Iseki inside to his fullback Ryohei Yamanaka saw Kobelco open the scoring with the game’s first try.
Just two minutes later Laumape found the open field after a smart chip kick by the Steelers was regathered coming out of their own 22. A storming support line saw Laumape bounce off multiple defenders before being brought down inside the Green Rockets half.
Two phases later the Steelers were over again to complete the long-range effort.
Laumape was involved twice in the lead-up to the third try, firstly putting away his winger by drawing the last man to create the initial break and then almost powering over himself before allowing his teammate to strip the ball and dive over for the score.
After the Green Rockets fought back into the game in the second half, Laumape produced a trademark power carry to set-up halfback Daiki Nakajima.
Steaming onto a short ball off the lineout, the All Black smashed through the first-up tackle and ran past three defenders before a deft pass inside to his No 9 to score untouched.
Kobelco was able to hold on to the lead to secure a 43-33 win which propelled them into fourth position in the 12-team division one of the Japanese league.
The Steelers have a blockbuster showdown with another heavyweight of Japanese Rugby next week when they face off against Tokyo Sungoliath, featuring former All Black first five Aaron Cruden.
The Tokyo Sungoliath have also signed a host of Kiwi talent, with former Crusaders No 8 Tom Sanders, Blues and Hurricanes flanker Blake Gibson, Highlanders wing Tevita Li and upcoming Canterbury centre Isaiah Punivai on the books.
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