The signings of All Black TJ Perenara and Springbok Makazole Mapimpi have made the Red Hurricanes a competitive side in the Japan Top League, whereas previously they were perennial underdogs.
The transformation into a tougher Top League side is not without growing pains however, as the hyper competitive Perenara found out in his side’s admirable 33-21 loss to one of the stronger clubs, Yamaha Jubilo.
The Red Hurricanes gave up a 26-0 lead in the first fifteen minutes to Yamaha as they failed to gain any control of proceedings early.
Their battle to get back into the game became much more difficult when Mapimpi slapped down a pass that would have been a certain try for Yamaha.
The Springboks winger was yellow carded for the deliberate act, leaving his side down one of their foreign stars.
All Black halfback Perenara desperately wanted his Japanese teammates to plead with the ref to prevent a penalty try being awarded after Mapimpi’s knock-down, telling one of his teammates to tell the ref they had another winger out wide that could have made the tackle.
“We had another winger, we had another winger,” Perenara pleaded with the referee
He then turned on his teammate to become a translator, yelling “tell him we had a winger!” to which his pleas fell on deaf ears.
An exasperated Perenara is then heard yelling an expletive out of frustration as his side fell into a 33-7 hole. The replay showed that the Red Hurricanes winger was in fact inside Mapimpi, and that they did not have another defender outside him.
The All Black halfback went about trying to build a second-half comeback and made a nice play, setting up his teammate for a try.
Playing a quasi-flyhalf role, Perenara drifted sideways and used a well-timed short ball with a headfake to put centre Samisoni Tua through a yawning gap on the angle.
The midfielder left former Japan international Ayumu Goromaru flat-footed in the backfield and scored under the posts.
A giddy Perenara let Goromaru know of his joy, staring down the 2015 World Cup hero and yelling ‘yeeeeeaaaaah’ as he ran past him.
The display of macho gloating by Perenara over the 35-year-old fullback was short-lived however, as the Red Hurricanes could only muster one more try to keep the scoreboard respectable.
The loss took the Red Hurricanes record to 4-2, and they sit in third place in the conference behind heavyweights Kobelco Steelers and Panasonic Wild Knights who shared a draw.
Yamaha Jubilo moved up to fourth, one spot below the Red Hurricanes.
Perenara’s side are still in the hunt but missed a golden opportunity to move closer to Kobe and Panasonic. They will have their work cut out for them as they take on the All Black-laden Kobe side featuring many of TJ’s former teammates in Brodie Retallick, Aaron Cruden, and Ben Smith.
Watch the Red Hurricanes highlights against Yamaha below.
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