New Zealand 55 Japan 5

New Zealand comfortably won the opening match in Pool 1 of the International Defence Rugby Competition.  Their nine try victory was thoroughly deserved but full credit must be given to Japan who fully contributed to an entertaining and flowing game of rugby.

It was Japan who settled the more quickly and dominated the early possession.  However, despite their attractive multi phase playthey were unable to prise open a disciplined and organised New Zealand defence.  With the ball finally kicked away it was New Zealand who then showed their attacking prowess.  A move straight from the training paddock should have opened the scoringbut it was ruled out for obstruction.  Though disappointed New Zealand were not to be denied and shortly afterwards it was captain Logan Vaughan who slipped through a small chink in the Japan defence for the opening try.  Flyhalf Ben Wyness added the conversion and New Zealand, after nearly 20 minutes had the score board ticking over.

Two further tries followed in quick succession when first left wing Tafa Tafa ran in from 40 metres and then at the end of some good continuity flanker Phillip Filipo crossed for their third.  17-0 and New Zealand looked comfortable.  However, they were struggling to meet with the standards expected of French referee, Jean Pierre Guiraud and with the penalties mounting it was little surprise that Mike Davey was finally shown a yellow card when clearing out at the ruck without use of the arms.

With the Defence Blacks a man short, Japan re-doubled their efforts and began to make some ground through a mixture of close driving play and their trademark quick passing game.  With penalties still coming in their favour they were able to gain field position through the boot of flyhalf Suguru Mizuma.  Eventually from their third short range lineout their maul found its traction and lock Massahi Sugimura was at the bottom of the pile for a well deserved Japan try.  Half time New Zealand 17 Japan 5.

The second half followed much of the pattern of the first.  Though Japan had plenty of possession they were unable to penetrate the lock tight New Zealand defence.  With ball in hand New Zealand were proving too powerful and inventive for the Japan defence.  First up tackles were rarely missed but as the phases mounted so New Zealand could capitalise as the defence lost its structure.

In all New Zealand crossed for six unanswered second half tries. Centre Samuel McDonnel was first with further tries coming through No 8 Ben Achillies and a delightful try from Cole Waake;made for him by a perfectly weighted kick from flyhaf Ben Wyness.  Try number seven was courtesy of Mike Davey, who redeemed himself for his earlier yellow card, whilst the final two were both from replacement wing, Matthew Abraham.

His last was after a kick a chase when he out paced the Japan fullback covering back.  It was the first time in the match that Japan had looked tired, quite remarkable considering the amount of tackles they had completed.  New Zealand were deserved victors but Japan made a great many friends with their attractive play and willingness to keep the ball in hand and attack.

Next up for New Zealand will be the Royal Navy whilst Japan will be taking Fiji in round 2.  Both matches on Monday 12 October at US Portsmouth RFC.

New Zealand:

Karl Furey, Sam Prosser, Angus White, Mike Davey, SonniWoodmass, Phillip Filipo, Jimmy Berghan, Ben AchilliesTejayOliver, Ben WynessTafa Tafa, Logan Vaughan (c), Samuel McDOnnel, Cole Waaka, Barney Te Kani

Replacements: Chance Thompson for Sam Prosser, Nathaniel Cooper for Ben Achillies, Ben Gunn for Mike Davey for Phillip Filipo, Sergio Broughton for Tejay Oliver, Jarod Deal for Ben Wyness, Mathew Abraham for Tafa Tafa, David Motutere for Karl Furey

Japan:

Hiroshi Naruke, Yutaka Ikuta, Naoki TakayamaYukihikoTsurusakiMassashi Sugimura, Takeo IitsukaChichiroSakaguchiAkinori Tsushima, Takehiko Meguro, Suguru Mizuma, Jun ChisakaTutsumi Koike, Tomonaga KudoKakeru MaetokiShunsuke Abe (c)

Replacements: Shitaro Watanabe for Naoki Takayama, MasakazuNagasawa for Yukiho TsurusakiRyosuke Hatta for MassashiSugimuraHisato Endo forChisaka Tutsumi, Yuji Yoshikawa for Takeo IitsukaSuguru Asano, Shunsuke Takano for SuguruMizumaAtshushi Sugiyama for Yukihiko Tsurusaki

Referee: Jean Pierre Guiraud (France) Ass Referees Nikki O’Donnell (ARURS) & Max Marsden (ARURS)