By Sean Gibson. Beautiful blue skies and cool Autumn weather greeted the much-anticipated clash between the Tokyo Crusaders and Tokyo Gaijin on Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 14:00. Opening kickoff was neatly gathered by Frank, whose forward pack immediately provided solid support. It was a theme that was to recur all day, as the support and recycling was particularly good. Following that, the ball went through the hands of the backs quite smoothly without many handling errors, with forwards at the breakdown in numbers. Defense for both squads was impressive as well, with some great tackles by the likes of Frank, Dominique, Rob , Seth and many others (everyone, really). Play went back and forth in the early part of the game, but twenty-one minutes in, had the opposition wing on the outside and he was able to get down the sidelines for a try and a conversion. It would be their only one. The Cru came back on the restart hard and fast, improving on an already solid performance. Our only weak spot was the scrum, though Skurry and Philippe at 8 and 9 respectively – of course – made the most of what they had, Skurry with his trademark run off the back of the pack and Philippe digging the ball out and getting clean ball to Travis, who’s ‘greased up deaf guy’ routine, while still good, wasn’t quite itself against a team such as the Gaijin. A yellow card for not being 10 meters back on a penalty 31 minutes in caused us to play down a man, but we were able to hold them to a penalty kick at the last minute of the half. Score at halftime Cru 0, Gaijin 10. Second half, the Cru came out as feisty as the first. Soon back to 15 players and with a few substitutions in the forward pack and one in the backs, new-comer Ian Miller scored his first try twenty minutes into the half. The conversion sailed wide, but we were given a bit of a bonus in the form of a yellow card to a Gaijin player for falling on the man after the try. Score now Cru 5, Gaijin 10. Unfortunately, the gap was narrowed shortly afterwards when a penalty gave the Gaijin another three points. Not to be outdone, the Cru came back hard and Ian Miller crossed the line to touch down just seven minutes later, taking the score to Cru 10, Gaijin 13, with minutes to play. The Crusaders never gave up and battled down to inside the oppositions 22 with a real shot at the win. It was just not to be however, as the ball was turned over and kicked into touch with no time left on the clock. All in all, it was an incredibly gutsy performance that, despite the result, the players and supporters should be proud of. And the team spirit showed in the pub by 33 players and fans proved that they were. Special thanks should go to RJ Surita, Koki Yamana and Clive Callaway – those guys suited up but didn’t get any game time. They’re all deserving players, so will get a full game on November 2. Also, to Sean Gibson, James Payne, Gareth Lim and Cristina Barrao for coming out to support, and Aiko W. for her medical assistance and photography. Another mention to Rick van der Wees, who was visiting Tokyo from The Bassets RFC in Holland and chose to spend his Sunday afternoon watching our match and having some beers with us. Rick, come back any time. Lastly, I think it was agreed by all that the referee (Adachi-san) was quite capable and competent. The penalty count seems to suggest so, with 11 for us and 13 against us. Not to mention the rather cool and ‘funky’ hairstyle. Our man of the match (5 points) went to Dominique Adams. Some strong runs and great tackles all day. Well done, Dom. This seems to be something of a trend. 4 points went to Rob Galbraith, who was as scrappy as ever – some great tackles, disruptions and pilfers. 3 points went to Philippe Buzon at halfback. As previously mentioned, made the most out of a few shaky scrums and got quick clean ball to the backs every time. 2 points to Ian Miller. 2 tries on debut and that in only half a game after a four year hiatus. Thank you Ian and welcome to the club. 1 point to Travis Dixon Kato, newly married. Travis was his usual self – all over the park, making breaks, making tackles , doing everything that needs to be done. Yet another solid performance at number 10.

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