RUGBY JERSEY -2022-23 League One Section 6

Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath vs Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Sagamihara Dynaboars

(Author: Azul, February 7, 2023)

In its second season, Japan Rugby League One started on 17 December 2022 and reached its sixth round on 29 January. Here are the League One First Division standings so far.

2022-23League One Order2023.1.29
1Saitama Wildnights6002577
2Kubota Spears42120115
3Tokyo Brave Lupas42020100
4Tokyo Sungoliath4101988
5Yokohama Eagles3121789
6Sagamihara Dynaboars31115-3
7Toyota Verblitz24010-37
8Kobe Steelers24010-18
9Black Rams Tokyo2308-21
10Green Rockets Tokatsu1404-96
11Shizuoka Blue Revs0414-31
12Hanazono Liners0601-243
WP=Winning Point
GD=Goal Difference

Last season’s champions, Wild Knights, have been consistently strong this season and are in provisional first place.

The weakest side are the bottom-placed Liners, who have lost all six of their games, all but one of which were heavy defeats. In particular, their defence was in a state of collapse.

In contrast, Dynaboars, another team promoted from the second division, have done quite well, beating last season’s top teams Bravelupas and Verblitz. This is a great achievement and the eye of the typhoon this season.

I went to watch the match between Tokyo Sungoliath and Sagamihara Dynaboars on 29 January this time. The venue for this match was the Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

As for the weather conditions on the day, the temperature was 8 degrees Celsius at the 14:30 kick-off. It was a home game for Sungoliath.

As you would expect from a popular team, Sungoliath drew a large crowd when they played at Chichibunomiya Rugby Ground – for a League One first division team match, the approximate crowd for each match is around 5,000, but on this day, the attendance was 7,018.

Immediately after RWC2019, the event boasted a popularity that saw every match almost fully booked, but three years later, the popularity of the event has slightly declined. If the Japanese national team performs well at this year’s RWC 2023, there is a possibility that popularity could rise again.

The Visitor Team of the day, Dynaboars, also had a tent where fans gathered.

It is very cold to watch the game in the middle of winter, so on this day I watched the game in the back stand, where the sun shone during the game.

Let me introduce the two teams playing this day.

First, an update on the home team, Tokyo Sungoliath.

Sungoliath finished second in League One last season, but they have the firepower to win the championship again this season. Every year, the team attracts promising players from strong universities and the player pool is so thick that even star players who have a shot at the national team have a hard time getting into the game. This season, too, promising star players have joined the team. Introduced on this day were.

1) Mikiya TAKAMOTO – from Teikyo University. Position = SO, and was the best player in this season’s University Championships.

2) Masahiko SAGARA – from Waseda University. Position = FL; captain of Waseda University, which reached the final of this season’s University Championships.

(3) Soshi Ohga – from Meiji University. Position = prop. One of the leading props of this generation.

(4) Vunilagi SAIMONI. from Daito Bunka University. International student from Fiji who is expected to make an immediate impact.

The starting line-up for the day is as follows.

Suntory Sungoliath
1Kenta KOBAYASHI181cm112kg23 
2Shunta NAKAMURA178cm100kg28Japan 0cap
3Shinnosuke Kakinaga180cm115kg30Japan 11cap
4Tui Hendrik188cm110kg35Japan 47cap
5Harry HOCKINGS206cm118kg24 
6Kanji SHIMOKAWA188cm105kg23Japan 0cap
7Kai YAMAMOTO177cm98kg22 
8Tevita TATAFU183m124kg26Japan 14cap
9Naoto SAITO165cm73kg25Japan 10cap
10Aaron CRUDEN175cm82kg33New Zealand  50cap
11Tevita Li182cm95kg27 
12Ryoto Nakamura181cm92kg30Japan 30cap
13Shogo NAKANO186cm98kg25Japan 5cap
14Seiya Ozaki175cm85kg27Japan 4cap
15Kotaro MATSUSHIMA178cm88kg29Japan 46cap

** Player to watch **.

Harry HOCKINGS. 206 cm, 118 kg, 24 years old from Australia. Position = lock. An irreplaceable player in Sungoliath’s squad. He is an international class player in terms of size, and at only 24 years of age, he is a young, injury prone and central player in the Sungoliath lineout. He has the potential to make the national team in the near future.

Next up is an update on visiting team Dynaboars.

No experts expected Dynaboars to be among the top contenders this season, having been promoted from League One’s second division to the first this season. There have been no significant reinforcements this season and many fans felt threatened by the departure of Michael LITTLE, a key player who had been the team’s mainstay until last season. However, once the season started, the team defeated one opponent after another, whom they had never beaten before. This season, Dynaboars have become the typhoon of League One. Hopefully, they can keep this momentum going until the end of the season.

The starting line-up for the day is as follows.

1Shunsuke SAKAMOTO180cm107kg24 
2Yoshimitsu Yasue176cm109kg38Japan 2cap
3Mototsugu HACHIYA180cm115kg24 
4Makoto Daniel Linde195cm110kg35 
5Epineri URUIVITI196cm122kg25 
6Sam Chongkit198cm108kg27Japan 7th
7Kohki SATO178cm96kg27 
8Jackson Hemopo195cm112kg28New Zealand  5cap
9Kota Iwamura182cm87kg29 
10James SHILLCOCK178cm88kg25 
11Alaia’sa Solarorand177cm94kg27 
12Fisipuna TUIAKI188cm105kg27JAPAN 7th
13Matt Vaega179cm94kg28 
14Tomoyuki OCHIAI185cm95kg28 
15Kazuki Ishida173cm85kg27WORLD SELECTION

** Players to watch **.

James SHILLCOCK. 178 cm, 88 kg, 25 years old, from England. He started the season on the bench as a reserve SO, but when he came on in place of main SO Matt TOOMUA, he secured his place with his accurate kicking. He is accurate on long and short PGs and his contested kicks with long dwell time make him a threat to the opposition.

Now, the match is about to begin.

From the very start of the match, the Dynaboars’ energetic advances were noticeable. They drove hard from the kick-off and had a scoring opportunity just beyond the opposition 22m line. Here, the Dynaboars launched a series of attacks that lasted for a total of 21 phases without any infringements. However, Sungoliath’s defence was also outstanding in not allowing a score here. In the end, Sungoliath won the ball back and survived the early pinch.

16 mins of the first half:

Sungoliath deployed from near halfway and connected with WTB LI, who quickly advanced and attacked deep into enemy territory. Sungoliath looked to have taken the lead, but a video decision ruled the try was disallowed due to an infringement. However, the Dynaboars were also fouled for offside, giving Sungoliath the right to a PG almost in front of the goal post, 20 metres out. This was scored by Sungoliath’s SO CRUDEN to make the score 3-0.

34 minutes into the first half:

Dynaboars made several advances deep into enemy territory but inevitably failed to score in-goal. When you keep missing scoring chances, the game turns to your opponents, and this happened again in this match.

Sungoliath got off to a good start from a 5m scrum in front of their own in-goal, made a gain on the right and then took a big step to the left, where CTB NAKAMURA’s kick-pass was caught by WTB LI, who showed great speed and ran into the middle right of the opposition in-goal for the try. Sungoliath ended up running nearly 100 metres at a stretch. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 10-3.

37 mins into the first half:

In a tight battle immediately after the kick-off following Sungoliath’s try, the Dynaboars had a PG opportunity following an infringement by their opponents, which was scored by SO SHILLCOCK to make the score 10-6.

40 minutes into the first half:

This time Sungoliath made a series of attacks in enemy territory and their first try chance was blocked by the Dynaboars. However, shortly afterwards, from a scrum on the right edge in front of the enemy in-goal, Sungoliath developed to the left and WTB LI was caught as he dived past two enemy defenders to close in on the in-goal. Here, a tight battle ensued, and Sungoliath secured the ball, which was then rolled out to the left and prop KOBAYASHI, running in from behind, scored a try in the middle on the left. The conversion goal after the try was also successful and Sungoliath ended the first half with the score 17-6.

Looking back at the first half, the Dynaboars were successful in playing in opposition territory for much of the half. However, from there, they were unable to stop Sungoliath’s counter-attacks, especially WTB LI, and allowed several Big Gains, which led to the loss of points.

If the Dynaboars had opted to play all PGs when their opponents committed infringements in opposition territory, the score would have been 50-50. That was the way we fought in the previous section, so it was a bit close, in my opinion, although it was a bit of a result.

Now let’s start the second half.

1 minute into the second half:

After a kick-off by Sungoliath, the ball was caught by Dynaboars who kicked it back. It was caught by Sungoliath’s SO CRUDEN, who stepped from it, dodged a couple of opposition defenders and went close to the opposition in-goal. He then passed to CTB NAKANO, who followed up from behind in front of the in-goal, and NAKANO went into the enemy in-goal and scored a try in the middle left. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 24-6.

Sungoliath quickly outscored the Dynaboars with tries at the end of the first half and early in the second half.

From this point on, Sungoliath’s attacking power exploded.

7 minutes into the second half:

Sungoliath scored a PG.

9 mins into the second half:

Sungoliath FB MATSUSHIMA picks up a spilled ball as the Dynaboars entered enemy territory and counter-attacked from deep in their own 22m right edge. MATSUSHIMA scored a try in the middle right of the enemy in-goal. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 34-6.

17 minutes into the second half:

It was during this period that the Dynaboars finally scored their first try, after an infringement by their opponents, a PK gave the Dynaboars their own lineout on the left edge of the enemy in-goal. From here, a series of attacks developed and after 10 phases, a try was finally scored by replacement WTB BEDWELL-CURTIS at the right end of the goal posts. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 34-13.

24 minutes into the second half:

Dynaboars lock URUIVITI was sent off for 10 minutes for a dangerous tackle. Immediately afterwards, Sungoliath had a lineout of their own deep on the enemy’s right flank. Here, Sungoliath moved forward in a maul attack and hooker NAKAMURA went straight over for a try in the middle right.

The conversion goal after the try failed, making the score 39-13.

27 minutes into the second half:

Sungoliath attacked a maul on the left side of the enemy 22m line, which was then extended to the right, where Sungoliath substitute CTB MORIYA rolled in an excellent golo punt into the enemy in-goal, which was held by No.8 TATAFU for a try. The conversion goal after the try was also successful, making the score 46-13.

41 mins into the second half:

Towards the end of the match, Sungoliath made a series of attacks deep in enemy territory. The Dynaboars showed some dogged defence and after 16 phases of successive attacks, Sungoliath substitute WTB KAWASE scored a try in the left corner of the opposition’s in-goal. In the second half of each of the last three matches, Kawase showed his decisiveness by scoring tries in three consecutive matches.

The conversion goal after the try failed, leaving Sungoliath as the winners of the match with a final score of 51-13.

Sungoliath lost their opening game, but have since come into their own with five consecutive wins. In the next round, the Fuchu derby against Tokyo Brave Lupath is scheduled.

In contrast, the Dynaboars, who lost today, will host the Kobe Steelers at home in the next round – can the Dynaboars hold on?


Stop the war.

Peace to Ukraine


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