Suntory Complete League and Cup Double

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(Photos by John Gunning of Inside Sport Japan)

The Japanese domestic season drew to a close last weekend with Suntory Sungoliath achieving the league and cup double.

However the game was not without controversy.

Kyodo News also produced a wrap of the promotion/relegation games.

The make-up of the Top League for 2017-18 was also confirmed as was the league’s new format.

The Sunwolves also held their first training session.

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(Photos by John Gunning of Inside Sport Japan)

Guest writer Jay Collins was at Hanazono Rugby Ground to give more details on Kintetsu keeping their place in the top flight.

In what was at times a scrappy game Kintetsu Liners thrashed Kyuden Voltex 47-0 in this winner-take-all relegation match.

Despite perfect conditions it took a little while for the game to get out of first gear. Kyuden won a penalty after demolishing Kintetsu’s pack in the first scrum of the game. It was an unexpected display of dominance but lightning doesn’t strike twice and Kintetsu’s scrum held an edge for the remainder of the match.

Kintetsu had previously had two tries disallowed in the first 10 minutes. First to loosehead prop and captain, Daiki Toyota, who put in an acrobatic roll but was in touch just before dotting the ball down, and second to fullback Andre Taylor whose excellent run was foiled by a forward pass.

In the 13th minute it was a case of third time lucky for Kintetsu when Taylor nimbly skipped through the Kyuden defense to cross over the line for a try. Inside centre Daisuke No was successful with the conversion.

Kintetsu scored again off of a strong rolling maul in the 24th minute with a try to scrumhalf Kim Chul-won. Kintetsu’s rolling maul struck again eight minutes later with hooker Yasutake Nagashita scoring the try.

Kyuden ramped up their attack and started to get a few line breaks but they couldn’t overcome Kintetsu’s defensive pressure and often knocked on or conceded a penalty. Kintetsu had the final say in the first half with a try to Naoyuki Tsuji, who scored after a nice run.

The two teams went into the sheds at halftime with the score 26–0.

In the second half the one-sided nature of this match only became more apparent with Kintetsu scoring three more tries to No. 8 Lepuha Latuila, Taylor and centre Naoki Morita. Once again Kyuden created a handful of half chances but they could not see them through, wilting under the might of the Kintetsu defense.

In this David v Goliath battle it was David that lacked any ability to mount a meaningful challenge, conceding seven tries because of it. In the forward pack alone Kyuden players surrendered a nearly 5-centimeter advantage on average to their Kintetsu counterparts. Kyuden was outplayed in set piece, found it difficult to get forward momentum when running with the ball themselves and struggled to hold back Kintetsu when they were hot on attack.

While it would be easy to point to Kyuden’s foreigner free line up as the reason for their comprehensive defeat, that would be doing a disservice to Kintetsu’s Japanese players who collectively put on one of their best games this season. Kyuden certainly played with heart but in the end they simply didn’t have enough to challenge Kintetsu.

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