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

By Sam Smith
(Source/J Sports)

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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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