Toshiba hangs on to open Top League season with win

first_img GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES But the Spears fought back with Yuji Ito scoring two minutes from time and his teammates keeping the ball alive for a further six minutes after the hooter, before they finally lost control and with it the chance of an amazing victory.“Kubota played really well so to get a win in the opening game was a great experience for us and something we can build on for the rest of the season,” said Toshiba coach Teppei Tomioka. “I am confident we can do well in the championship.”For Kubota, there was pride in keeping the game close but frustration at not being able to close it out.“The way the boys played is the way we want to go on this season. I felt we could have won it at the end. We were just missing that final finish,” rued coach Frans Ludeke.On a wet evening in the nation’s capital, Louis Fouche banged over a long-range penalty in the 12th minute to hand Kubota an early 3-0 lead.Toshiba hit back though when a good break by No. 8 Yoshitaka Tokunaga was finished off by flying wing Matsuoka in the 15th minute.Takahiro Ogawa added the extras to make it 7-3, but the lead was short-lived as the Spears laid siege to the Brave Lupus and were rewarded with a try by Katoni Otukolo.The big center joined a driving maul in the 30th minute and then broke free to go over in the corner to make it 8-7.But an Ogawa penalty in the 35th minute meant it was Toshiba that held the advantage as the teams went back to the sheds for halftime.Two penalties in the opening 11 minutes of the second stanza from Fouche saw Kubota regain and then extend their lead as the Spears made the most of the good work put in by Grant Hattingh and the pack.But the introduction of Japan captain Michael Leitch off the bench, following a long injury lay-off, sparked Toshiba back into life.Matsuoka’s second try and the five-pointer from Masuda seemed to close out the game but Ito and the Spears had different ideas and almost stole it at the death.Toyota Verblitz top the standings after the first weekend of action thanks to a 39-18 defeat of Toyota Industries Shuttles that saw them as the only side to pick up a bonus point for scoring three or more tries than their opponents.Meanwhile, in the first game of the doubleheader in Tokyo, Ricoh Black Rams edged NEC Green Rockets 23-20 in a thriller with Colin Bourke’s drop goal proving to be the difference between the two sides.Newly promoted Munakata Sanix Blues proved too strong for Honda Heat, winning 33-22, Kobe Kobelco Steelers topped NTT Communications Shining Arcs 27-17 and Canon Eagles downed Coca-Cola Red Sparks 31-14. KEYWORDS IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5center_img Top League, Kubota Spears, Toyota Brave Lupus Toshiba Brave Lupus hung on by their skin of their teeth to open their 2016-17 Top League campaign with a 22-19 win over Kubota Spears on Saturday night.Last season’s runners-up seemed to have the game sewn up when Keisuke Masuda went over in the 73rd minute at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground, the center adding to two earlier efforts from Hisayoshi Matsuoka.last_img


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