12 Oct – YCAC vs NI Fijis

YCAC 12 NI Fijis 26 (HT: 5 – 7)
Tries:
Ken Noguchi, Chris Mander
Conversion: Ben Duncan

On an overcast afternoon on the (artificially) green turf of Hodogaya the club$B!G(Bs hopes of winning the Kanagawa League 3rd Division suffered a heavy blow with a defeat to the mysteriously named NI Fijis. The main reason for this loss was a committed performance from the opposition, although it must be said that the Kanagawa League scheduling has not particularly helped our cause. (Our first two matches have been played on three-day weekends, times when many players tend to travel away from Tokyo, and we have had to scramble for numbers each time.)

After a lot of chasing from the writer during the week leading up to the match we eventually ended up with a squad of 17 to face the NI Fijis. The only problem was that most of these 17 were backs – by my count we only had three $B!F(Bout and out$B!G(B forwards in the team. As may be expected, this resulted in some unusual selections and full credit should go to those who agreed to play out of position. Fraser $B!F(BBuffalo Butt$B!G(B Jamieson and Grant $B!F(BMr. Normal$B!G(B Thompson moved from our center pairing to our second-row pairing and Eparama $B!F(BLittle Cuzzy Bro$B!G(B Tuibenau made an even more unusual transition – from wing to loose-head prop! Amazingly, Eps did a fantastic job in his first game at prop a! nd our scrum consistently dominated the NI Fijis throughout the match.

In fact, our scrum was not the only aspect of the game in which we were strong. Our defensive line-outs were good, our backs (particularly Simon $B!F(BEl Presidente$B!G(B Ryan) looked dangerous with ball in hand and our one-on-one tackling was generally sound. (Jason $B!F(BThe Don$B!G(B Dunn deserves a special mention for the huge defensive effort he put in at fullback.) We also had the edge in the sartorial elegance department with this match being the unveiling of this season$B!G(Bs new jerseys. However, despite the positives, on this particular day we were unable to string everything together and play as a team and although we took an early lead in the mat! ch (a series of good hands finished off by $B!F(BCaviar$B!G(B Ken Noguchi) the danger signs were always there. As the commentators like to say we were $B!F(Blosing the contest at the breakdown$B!G(B and therefore unable to put together multiple-phase attacks. We were also a touch slow to get into position on defence and as the match wore on the NI Fijis were increasingly able to take advantage of this. Although we did manage one second-half score (to debutant $B!F(BShoeless$B!G(B Chris Mander) the latter stages of the match and the victory belonged to the opposition.

This result of this loss is that we will almost certainly need to win our remaining two 3rd Division matches (against the Babaaru Seagulls on 2 November and the Pink Elephants on 24 November) in order to advance to the semi-finals. If we can get strong squads together for each match then there is no reason to doubt that this is well within our grasp. An added bonus of making the knock-out stages of the tournament would be that it means we would almost certainly get another crack at the NI Fijis. With a bit of luck we may even get to see part two of the midget wrestling contest which kicked-off in the second half between YCAC rake Mike $B!F(BMasivo$B!G(B King and his opposite number in the NI Fijis. And that, to use ano! ther commentators cliché, $B!F(Bwould be worth the price of admission alone$B!G(B $B!D(B

Joe Fisher

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