Round 11 saw Yamaha Jubilo and Suntory Sungoliath keep on winning, David Pocock and Stephen Donald make their Top League debuts and Kenki Fukuoka equal a league record with six tries in a game.
And just for good measure Fourie du Preez was back in town too.
Week 11 Results
Panasonic 69 Honda 14
Suntory 48 Coca-Cola 12
Kubota 21 Ricoh 18
Canon 17 Kintetsu 10
Yamaha 47 NEC 5
Kobe Steel 30 Toshiba 24
Sanix 15 Toyota Verblitz 14
Toyota Shuttles 33 NTT Comms 19
Here are the standings
Kyodo News covered the games in Tokyo and Kobe on Saturday and Sunday.
RNJ guest writer Jay Collins was in Osaka on Saturday to watch Fukuoka steal Pocock’s thunder. Here’s his report.
In a display of almost overwhelming dominance, Panasonic Wild Knights thrashed Honda Heat 69 points to 14 as David Pocock enjoyed an easy debut and Kenki Fukuoka equaled an impressive record.
It did not take Panasonic long to get on the scoreboard. A strong drive from an attacking lineout and No. 8, Ryu Koliniasi Holani dotted the ball down for five points.
Shortly after scoring, Panasonic fullback, Yoshikazu Fujita, gifted Honda Heat an attacking scrum about 15 metres out from the Panasonic line. Honda made a decent fist of attacking the Panasonic line but the chance fizzled out when the Wild Knights stole the ball away.
This was the story of the next ten minutes as Honda had opportunities on attack but were repeatedly penalized and were seemingly unable to make the most of the chances given to them.
Panasonic left wing Fukuoka scored his first try of the day in the 19th minute, getting the ball down in the corner.
Ten minutes later, Richard Buckman crossed the line. At this stage the score was still only 15 points to nil to Panasonic. It would have been higher but flyhalf Takuya Yamasawa had a mixed first half with the boot, missing three of his five conversions.
With five minutes left in the first half, the game already felt over for Honda and things went from bad to worse for Honda when flanker Ryota Kobayashi was yellow carded. Watching from the side line, Kobayashi saw Panasonic properly kick into gear and score two more tries before halftime, one each to hooker Atsushi Sakate and Yamasawa, who found his kicking form to convert both opportunities.
Already leading 29 points to nil, Panasonic started the second half the way they had finished the first; by scoring tries. Fukuoka got his second try from a pass that seemed forward in the 47th minute. Only a few minutes later he completed his hat-trick. Not satisfied with only three tries, Fukuoka scored three more tries to complete the rout in the 58th, 68th and 75th minutes with Buckman adding a second in the 54th minute.
To their credit, Honda got on the score board in the second half with two tries from outside centre Lelia Masaga and lock Yutaro Kamada.
The game ended 69 points to 14 with Fukuoka given man-of-the-match for managing to equal the Top League record for most tries in a game with his double hat-trick.
Following this attacking display, Canon Eagles overcame Kintetsu Liners 17-10 in a close but uninspiring game of rugby.
Canon had their first try ruled out by the TMO but successfully opened the scoring in the 22nd minute with a try to centre Kojiro Fujichika. That was the only try of the first half as they went into the break up 10 points to nil.
Kintetsu pulled themselves back into the game with a superb solo try from fullback Andre Taylor in the 62nd minute.
It was Canon, however, who had the last say, with fullback Michael Bond scoring in the 73rd minute allowing Canon to break the deadlock to win 17 points to 10.