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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.


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.


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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