The 7th round of 2017 Super Rugby was held on first week of April. Results of Japan team Sunwolves was staggering, Sunwolves didn’t win first time in 2017 season with 5 losses in a row. Last week, the Sunwolves didn’t have a match and they were taking a rest.
Many players of the Sunwolves were absent from injuries and rest, so they could not organize the best members. But in the 7th round, Fumiaki Tanaka (SH) and Kotaro Matsushima (FB) are back in the starting member. And Takeshi Kizu (HO), Keita Inagaki (PR), Shunsuke Nunomaki (FL) and Yu Tamura (SO) were also in the bench.
On April 8, a match of round 7 was held in the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, the Sunwolves played against the Bulls (Vodacom Bulls). The Sunwolves had played against the Bulls two times last year, the Bulls beat the Sunwolves 30 to 27 in Singapore on March 2016. And on July 2016, both teams played again in Pretoria, the Bulls beat the Sunwolves again 50 to 3. In 2017 season, the Sunwolves had played against the Bulls a time in the round 4, the Bulls beat the Sunwolves 34 to 21 in Pretoria.
There were about 13,000 spectators in the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium at Tokyo. The Sunwolves changed 9 stating members that compared with last match. The starting members of both teams are as follows;
☆：Japan national rugby union player of 2016 Autumn Internationals
★：the Sunwolves player of 2016 Super Rugby
Sunwolves ■PR: Koki Yamamoto (☆★), Yusuo Yamaji (☆) ■HO: Yusuke Niwai ■LO: Liaki Moli (★), Uwe Helu (☆) ■FL: Shuhei Matsuhashi, Yoshitaka Tokunaga ■No.8: Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco ■SH: Fumiaki Tanaka (☆) ■SO: Hayden Cripps ■WTB: Kenki Fukuoka (☆) , Takaaki Nakazuru ■CTB: Timothy Lafaele (Cap,☆), Derek Carpenter (★) ■FB: Kotaro Matsushima
Bulls ■PR: Lizo Gqoboko, Trevor Nyakane ■HO: Adriaan Strauss (Cap) ■LO: Jason Jenkins, RG Snyman ■FL: Nic de Jager, Jannes Kirsten ■No.8: Hanro Liebenberg ■SH: Rudy Paige ■SO: Tian Schoeman ■WTB: Jamba Ulengo, Travis Ismaiel ■CTB: Burger Odendaal, Jan Serfontein ■FB: Warrick Gelant
In the Sunwolves, Edward Quirk (FL) and Willem Britz (No.8) rested, so Warren-Vosayaco participated for the first time in the starting member. The Sunwolves took the lead in the first half, and finally won the Bulls 21 to 20. The Sunwolves got the first time win in 2017 Super Rugby.
It was raining on this day at Tokyo. Cripps missed goal kicks 2 times, he was replaced by Tamura from beginning of second half. Tamura got goal kicks 2 times certainly, so Today’s winning cause is that he participated. Tamura belonged to NEC Green Rockets in Japan Top League, but he will transfer to Canon Eagles from next season. The point which was not so good in this match, Sunwolves missed tackles many time. So the success rate of tackle at the bottom of Super Rugby did not improve greatly.
2 weeks ago, I wrote “The reason Sunwolves may not win even once in 2017 Super Rugby“. But the Sunwolves betrayed my expectations. In the Bulls, there were many injured players who were Handre Pollard (SO), Jesse Kriel (FB) and Lood de Jager (LO). The possession of the Bulls was 60%, but the team lacked of scoring ability. And Serfontein was a sin-bin in the 69 minite, the Sunwolves scored the winner until ten minute.
So the Bulls were 3 losses in a row.
This youtube’s video is the movie of Sunwolves vs. Bulls. In the 8th round, the Sunwolves play against the Crusaders in Christchurch on April 14. For Sunwolves, this match is the first time in New Zealand.