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Watch: Suntory star Damian McKenzie scores first League One try

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Toru Hanai/Getty Images)

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All Blacks star Damian McKenzie has crossed for his first Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath try since joining the Japanese club for the 2022 League One season.

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McKenzie started at fullback as Suntory romped to a 50-8 victory over Toyota Verblitz at Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo to cement their place at the top of the Division 1 standings.

In doing so, the 26-year-old playmaker helped deny Springboks star Pieter-Steph du Toit and All Blacks teammate Patrick Tuipulotu victory in their Toyota debuts as he contributed 20 points to the scoreline.

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Most of those points came from McKenzie’s boot, but the 40-test international broke his try-scoring duck for Suntory since joining the side on a season-long deal in December.

McKenzie struck early in the second half when Suntory were handed a scrum feed five metres from Toyota’s tryline.

Roaming out wide as a support player, McKenzie latched onto a deft offload from Wallabies midfielder and 2021 World Rugby Player of the Year nominee Samu Kerevi to canter in under the posts untouched.

It was a slick backline move by Suntory, whose second-five Ryoto Nakamura slotted in at first receiver and picked out Kerevi – who was joined by first-five Hikaru Tamura in running clever lines to deceive the defence – with a first-time pass.

McKenzie went on to convert his own try, which was one of seven scored by Suntory as they notched up half a century of points for the second successive match.

In Suntory’s season-opener the week beforehand, McKenzie scored 25 points in his debut for the club as his side defeated the Toshiba Brave Lupus 60-48 in front of their home fans.

McKenzie and Suntory will this weekend off after their scheduled clash against the Shizuoka Blue Revs, formerly known as Yamaha Jubilo, was cancelled due to a Covid outbreak within their squad.

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A decision about a potential rematch or allocation of competition points is yet to be made, with Suntory’s next scheduled fixture against the Black Rams Tokyo at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium on January 30.

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