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Richie Mo'unga cops yellow as Toshiba Brave Lupus triumph over defending champs

By Ben Smith
Richie Mounga of Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo enters the pitch during the NTT Japan Rugby League One match between Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath v Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo at Ajinomoto Stadium on December 17, 2023 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

Ex-All Blacks star Richie Mo’unga copped a yellow card for a jarring cover tackle as his Toshiba Brave Lupus triumphed over the defending champion Kubota Spears.


The first five-eighth cleaned up his opposite number Halatoa Vailea in the backfield as the reserve No 10 raced down the sideline. The tackle left both reeling momentarily which officials deemed worthy of a yellow card after slipping up.

Fortunately for Mo’unga, the Brave Lupus had done enough to secure the win holding a 24-13 lead at the time.

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A late try to Wales international Liam Williams put the Spears within touching distance but Toshiba held on during the final minutes.

Kubota opened the scoring through former All Black hooker Dane Coles who crashed over from close range for his first try in Japan.

An error from the back of the scrum gave a gift try to Brave Lupus which Mo’unga converted to level the scores at 7-all.

The ex-All Black No 10 then showed his class with a deft pass to set up their second linking with his wingers. The break from around midfield was finished by fullback Takuro Matsunaga.


The two sides exchanged penalties as the contest remained in the balance midway through the second half at 17-13.

Mo’unga came up with a big play from a long range kick that was fumbled a metre out and recovered by Toshiba. Winger Masaki Hamada dived over for the crucial try.

In other Sunday fixtures in Japan Rugby League One, the Yokohama Canon Eagles defeated Mitsubishi Sagamihara Dynaboars by 40-35 in a high-scoring affair while Shizuoka Blue Revs demolished Mie Honda Heat by 62-13.


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Mzilikazi 8 hours ago
Swashbuckling Hurricanes and Harlequins show scrum still matters

I always enjoy a good scrum based article. Thanks, Nick. The Hurricanes are looking more and more the team to beat down here in Australasia. They are a very well balanced team. And though there are far fewer scrums in the game these days, destructive power in that area is a serious weapon, especially an attacking scrum within in the red zone. Aumua looked very good as a young first year player, but then seemed to fade. He sure is back now right in the picture for the AB’s. And I would judge that Taukei’aho is in a bit of a slump currently. Watching him at Suncorp a few weeks ago, I thought he was not as dominant in the game as I would have expected. I am going to raise an issue in that scrum at around the 13 min mark. I see a high level of danger there for the TH lifted off the ground. He is trapped between the opposition LH and his own powerful SR. His neck is being put under potentially dangerous pressure. The LH has, in law , no right to use his superior scrummaging skill….getting his head right in on the breastbone of the TH… force him up and off the ground. Had the TH popped out of the scrum, head up and free, there is no danger, that is a clear penalty to the dominant scrum. The law is quite clear on this issue: Law 37 Dangerous play and restricted practices in a scrum. C:Intentionally lifting an opponent off their feet or forcing them upwards out of the scrum. Sanction: Penalty. Few ,if any, referees seem to be aware of this law, and/or the dangers of the situation. Matthew Carly, refereeing Clermont v Munster in 2021, penalised the Munster scrum, when LH Wycherly was lifted very high, and in my view very dangerously, by TH Slimani. Lifting was coached in the late ‘60’s/70’s. Both Lions props, Ray McLouglin, and “Mighty Mouse” McLauchlan, were expert and highly successful at this technique. I have seen a photo, which I can’t find online atm, of MM with a NZ TH(not an AB) on his head, MM standing upright as the scrum disintegrates.

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