by Aaron Angelo
“Mate, if they tell me to change my studs it’ll be a cold day in hell before I do.”

Sadly, Frank’s words did nothing if not anger the weather gods even more. Sunday saw some of the warmest weather in Tokyo for 2019, with a local high of 31.5 degrees celsius (89 for those stuck in Fahrenheit) and 30% humidity. Never the less, the mighty Tokyo Crusaders assembled for their second Tokyo Cup fixture against some of the strongest opposition yet via Dasewa RFC. As everyone meandered to the ground and Chris avoided making direct eye contact with the Tokyo Gaijin, hearts and minds seemed focused on the task at hand. With the lineup named, warm up completed, and kit thrown on, it was go-time to see where the Cru would land in regards to the league standings. The lineup was as follows:

1 Wada, Junki
2 Adachi, Yuuki
3 Honjo, Shota
4 Saffery, Frank
5 Pokluda, Aaron
6 Galbraith, Rob
7 Paku, Yon
8 Cocks, Tom
9 Morris, Owen
10 Matsumoto, Suguru
11 Sparrow, Matt
12 O’Sullivan, Chris
13 Dixon, Travis
14 Kunde, Benjamin
15 Maeda, Susumu

Finishers:

16 Duncan, James
17 Hara, Tomonori
18 King, Josh
19 Limin, David
20 Martin, Nathan
21 Mezzo, Alberto
22 Hirano, Gen

With the heat intensifying, the game finally got underway at forty minutes past noon. The lads got off on the right foot with intense tackles and runs for significant yardage. Dasewa’s bend but don’t break defense didn’t hold out for long, as the Crusaders went over for their first try in Travis Dixon just past the ten minute mark. The pack was in exceptional form as well, winning nearly every scrum and accounting for many a stolen ball. This led to an additional two tries off set play courtesy of Chris O’Sullivan, with the score line reading 21-0. It was at this point that Paku decided to become a damn heat seeking missile and obliterated numerous members of the opposition much to the dismay/horror of the referee and sideline. Dasewa, noses bloodied and sweat stained, rallied immediately to score their first try on the day. It was at this point following a Benji Kunde try that Suguru Matsumoto said “Hold my beer”. Lined up at an impossible seeming angle from the corner, Suguru toed over a flyer for the conversion to reassert the Crusaders dominance.

With only ten minutes left in the half, the forwards decided it was time to put up some tries of their own. After demolishing Dasewa’s scrum into their own 22 zone, Tom Cocks scored 5 off an 8-man blindside pick. Seven minutes later, Benji added the exclamation point with a second try.

The second half pep talk was simple; Foot on their throats, do not let up!This however seemed to fall on deaf ears as Dasewa managed to rack up two tries in a matter of ten minutes. While they were low on points, they were certainly not short on tenacity nor counter attack. This is probably what lit the fire under fullback Susumu Maeda to slip like a snake past Dasewa’s defensive line. Giving five (you read that right, five) defenders the slip, Susumu managed to score the try as well as the following conversion. The opposition answered promptly, scoring off a mishandled ball within the Cru’s 22 meter area. Everything thereafter however, belonged to the Crusaders. David Limin broke through a pair of defenders to find the try line, as did Suguru with only minutes left on the clock. As the final whistle blew, the score line read 63-26 in favor of the Tokyo Crusaders.

The Crusaders had won by a healthy margin, though credit had to be given to Dasewa for a stand-up fight despite the heat. 30 players and an innumerable number of Crusaders supporters had attended the match, and their assistance day of was something that cannot be lauded enough. Benji was awarded Man of the Match by the opposition, while the Cru chose Iijima Shinsaku as Dasewa’s MVP. The 3-2-1’s are as follows.

Kunde, Benjamin 5
Paku, Yon 4
Matsumoto, Suguru 3
Cocks, Tom 2
O’Sullivan, Chris 1

‘Till next time kids!

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