Sunwolves outplay sloppy Blues in hot Tokyo
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Sunwolves' explosive second-half performance made sure they marched to a historic 48-21 win over the Blues on Saturday.
The Japanese franchise scored eight tries to three in the sides first ever Super Rugby meeting.
After a horrendous trip to South Africa which includes defeats to the Lions (7-94) and the Stormers (15-52), the Sunwolves were aagain expected to suffer a huge defeat of more than 50 points, especially after the Blues' start.
The Blues started the game in fine form when captain James Parsons opened the score after ten minutes of play, 7-0.
The Blues went onto to score an additional try within a space of 10 minutes, courtesy of lock Gerard Cowley-Tuioti. Being 14-0 up it looked like it was going to be one of those well-known New Zealand walkovers.
The Sunwolves struggled to get momentum in the opening minutes but finally broke the duck when Timothy Lafaele dived under the posts. Yu Tamura added the extras to trail 7-14.
The Sunwolves' celebrations were shortlived as Michael Collins's try extended the Blues lead. The fullback intercepted a pass inside his own 10 metre and sprinted for the third try, 21-7 after 30 minutes of play.
However, the Sunwolves kept up their pace and just before the half time break their quick hands and set plays made sure they send scrumhalf Keisuke Uchida over the whitewash to narrow the halftime deficit to just 7 points.
The hosts were the first to register points in the second-half. Within 13 minutesthey narrow the deficit to just two points, courtesy of Ryohei Yamanaka's try.
The New Zealanders' troubles were on the rise just like the heat in Tokyo. And they were soon forced to play with 14-man after All Black Jerome Kaino was given a yellow card for a high-tackle.
In Kaino's absence, the Sunwolves immediately took advantage of the extra man in the park and set up an attacking line-out on the Blues' 5 metre. The Sunwolves had a maul but were denied momentum when the Blues pulled down the maul illegally. The referee Rasta Rasivhenge had no option but to award a penalty try and for the first time the hosts took the lead after 60 minutes of play.
Just minutes later, Sunwolves extended their lead to 31-21 when replacement scrumhalf Kaito Shigeno crossed the whitewash.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, Sunwolves simply looked in sublime form, centre Lafaele made sure he bagged a hat-trick, and Yoshitaka Tokunaga added try number eight to conclude the win.
The win is the Sunwolves' second win of the season and first ever win against a New Zealand opposition.
Man of the match: Sunwolves centre pair - William Tupou and Timothy Lafaele - were amazing, while the open side flank Shuhei Matsuhashi was ruthless at the breakdown. The Blues lock Gerard Cowley-Tuioti's workrate was tremendous and seemed to be the only one that can handle Tokyo's heat. Our man of the match goes to Sunwolves live wire wing Kenki Fukuoka who was scintillating in defence and attack. He produced great linebreaks and put in crucial tackles against guys double his size.
Tries: Lafaele 3, Uchida, Ryohei, Yamanaka, Shigeno, penalty try, Tokunaga
Cons: Tamura 2, penalty try does not require a conversion, Ogura
Tries: Parsons, Cowley-Tuioti, Collins
Cons: West 3
Yellow Card: Jerome Kaino (Blues, 57 - High tackle)
Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 William Tupou, 12 Timothy Lafaele, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willem Britz, 7 Shuhei Matsuhashi, 6 Malgene Ilaua, 5 Uwe Helu, 4 Kotaro Yatabe, 3 Koo Jiwon, 2 Takeshi Hino, 1 Koki Yamamoto.
Replacements: 16 Yusuke Niwai, 17 Keita Inagaki, 18 Yasuo Yamaji, 19 Yuya Odo, 20 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Jumpei Ogura, 23 Ryohei Yamanaka.
Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Jerome Kaino, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 Rene Ranger.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Akihisa Aso (Japan), Tasuku Takawahara (Japan)
TMO: Minoru Fuji (Japan)