12 Dec 2010 YCAC vs Tsukubarian
(East Japan Club Championships Final)

YCAC Gents vs Tsukubarian
Match report by Michael Hunt and photos by Matt Dimond & Ken Noguchi

YCAC 43 – Tsukubarian 12

Sunday 12 December; the YCAC’s date with destiny, with Kumagaya B our Field of Dreams, the club determined to deliver the East Japan Championship to Yamate, in our first season in the competition.

Tsukubarians stood between YCAC and finals’ glory; having been relegated the previous season, they were determined to bounce straight back up. Their semi-final performance demonstrated that they would prove a stern test, particularly through their forwards, who mauled their opposition of the park.

Electing to play into the wind first half, the piggies were going to have to combat the strong pack, and rely on the backs to counter at every opportunity. We would have to be ready from the start…and what a start it was for the lads from Yokohama; receiving straight from the kick-off, Kane at 10 chose to attack from the off, the ball going to the wide to left, prompting a break down the line; 5 passages of plays later, with dynamic recycling at the rucks from the piggies, Ryan Lawson strolled over the line in the right hand corner…5-0 to Yokohama, with hardly a minute played and no break in play. A superb team try.

As expected, the Tsukubarians came back strongly through their forwards, with a great deal of the next 15mins being spent in the YCAC half; the try line never looked like being breached, but the pressure was building and there was to be no relief through the boot, with the wind against; it took a moment of genius from Andy Kennedy at 12, who broke through the ‘Barians’ line in the YCAC ‘22, and linked brilliantly with the unlikely combination of Sias, Brimm and Stallard, showing deft handling skills; through another couple of quick recycles and Kennedy finished off what he started, diving over under the posts…12-0 to YCAC.

The next 15mins were attritional, with little of note, other than Sias discovering for the first time that he does, in fact, have a hamstring; confirmed only when he pulled it whilst sea-gulling…

10 minutes before half time, and another moment of magic from Kennedy at 12; with YCAC quickly shifting the ball along the line in the Tsukubarians’ ’22, Andy received the worst pass of the afternoon, heading for his bootlaces…at pace, and the defender on him, he flicked the ball up with his right peg, into his hands, to then offload to Laweson, strolling in unopposed for his second try – YCAC up 17-0, coming up to half time.

Unfortunately, the YCAC half time oranges were to taste a little sour, with the ‘Barians scoring in the last passage of play of the half; great continuity rugby, and a big wake up call for the YCAC, going into the break.

However, it didn’t take long for the half time nerves to be settled, this time through a brilliant touch of individualism from Lawson…receiving the ball wide on the right, the lad powered down the wing, chipping deftly over the on-rushing defenders, retrieving the ball and running through unchallenged to the line to complete his hat-trick.

This seemed to liberate the side, with the game opening up considerably; Kats and Kane dictating the pace of the game, foraging runs from the base of the scrum, Joe and Daisuke running powerfully off their shoulders, creating the space for the backline.

At the same time, there were some monumental hits being put in from the back row, Steve smashing a couple of Tsukubarian forwards in the tackle and forcing the turnover, and it was from one such tackle that the most popular try of the afternoon was scored! Ben Patu received the ball in space, deep in his own half and counter-attacked, the ball being shipped along the line to a flock of seagulls, flapping furiously…Blacoe, lacking inspiration (and more importantly, pace) put his boot through the ball, encouraging others (with aforementioned pace) to chase through…with the Tsukubarian 15 under pressure in his own ’22, the ball was spilt, allowing our Skipper to collect and score from 15 metres…a great moment.

With the forwards providing a great platform for the backs, dominating the scrums and the line-outs, more trys were always in the offing, with Andy Kennedy ghosting in for another couple, to complete his hat-trick to extend the lead through to 43-5, for the Tsukubarians to reply at the death.

The final whilst below, with the score standing at 43-12; YCAC being crowned East Japan Champions for the first time in our history. In front of the proud YCAC supporters, including his proud family who how come all the way up from Oz for the game, Deano was presented with the ceremonial scroll and sizeable cup, which proved to be a most suitable drinking vessel for the team late into the evening at the various Ueno watering holes that kindly hosted the YCAC on our victory parade!

Michael Hunt

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