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Watch: Aaron Cruden and Marika Koroibete shine in wild League One clash

By Sam Smith
(Source/J Sports)

Former All Black first five Aaron Cruden and Wallaby winger Marika Koroibete starred for their respective sides in a wild Japan Rugby League one clash between the Kolbeco Steelers and Panasonic Wild Knights.

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The two clubs have been powerhouses of the formerly named Top League, and combined for 78 points in a thrilling 41-37 encounter at Kobe Universiade Memorial Stadium.

Robbie Deans’ Panasonic side came back from a 24-8 deficit late in the first half to storm home and secure the win, propelled by another starring performance from Wallabies star Marika Koroibete.

But it was Aaron Cruden who made a statement early, snatching an inside pass for a long range intercept to put the Steelers up 7-0. A shortwhile later, Kobe had another intercept try when a wild offload five metres out from their own goal line was picked off by halfback Atsushi Hiwasa.

When Aaron Cruden laid on a try assist for fullback Ryohei Yamanaka early in the second half, the game looked secured for the Steelers as Cruden’s conversion made it 31-15.

It was Koroibete who sliced through on a set-piece strike move before setting up his other wing Koki Takeyama to give Panasonic some hope of comeback at 30-22, before two Cruden penalty goals extended the lead to 37-22.

In the final fifteen minutes, Koroibete scored a brace, firstly barging over through Cruden off the back of the maul and then beating his opposite man one-on-one to score in the corner to bring Panasonic within touching distance at 37-34.

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One of Japan’s World Cup heroes, hooker Shota Horie, then scored a rolling maul try with time up on the clock to steal a famous victory for the Wild Knights.

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Jon 55 minutes ago
How Maro Itoje terrorised the All Blacks lineout

Yeah England were much smarter, they put their much vaster experience to use in both the scrum (bending/not taking hit) and lineout (Itoje early sacks) law vagaries. Really though, I know what is there, I’m more worried about Englands locks. We only got to see Itoje and Martin, right? Depth allround in the England camp was probably the difference in the series and the drop off when Itoje reached his minutes limit for the season (it was like the plug was pulled from the charger) was up there with keeping Sexton on the park in that quarter final. What happened there? You have a lot of watching hours experience with locks come blindsides Nick, especially with a typical Australian player make up, have you see a six the size of Barrett absolutely dominate the position and his opposition? I can easily see Scott, and even Martin for that matter, moving to the blindside and playing like Tadgh Beirne with the amount of top locks we have coming through to partner Patrick. Still with the English mindset, because despite running the best All Black team I’ve seen in a long time close, they do need to find improvement, and although I thought they had a lot of good performances from their 7’s (over the years), I really like the prospect of Cunningham-South in his 8 spot and Earl on the open. Can you see Martin as mobile enough to take over Lawes? I absolutely loved his aggression when Jordie ran upto him to try and grab the ball. That alone is enough reason for me to try him there.

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