The Sunwolves’ second year started with two losses in a row. In the match of round 1, the Sunwolves played against the Hurricanes at Tokyo. There were over 17,000 spectators in the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, but the Sunwolves was defeated by a score of 83 to 17. In the match of round 2, the Sunwolves lost the Kings (Southern Kings) by 37 to 23 in Singapore National Stadium.
Many players of the Sunwolves has injured, that is a reason of their defeats. Now Keita Inagaki (PR), Hitoshi Ono (LO), Yu Tamura (SO) , Shunsuke Nunomaki (FL) and Harumichi Tatekawa (CTB) are under treatment. And Kotaro Matsushima (FB), Shota Horie (HO) and Fumiaki Tanaka (SH) were given a rest, they didn’t took part in the match of round 3.
On March 11, the match of round 3 was held in the Toyota Stadium South Africa, the Sunwolves played against the Cheetahs. The Sunwolves had played against the Cheetahs in March last year, the Cheetahs beat the Sunwolves 32 to 31 in Singapore National Stadium. By the way, only Liaki Moli and Edward Quirk are starting members of the match with Cheetahs in last year and this year.
The Sunwolves changed seven stating members 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, Edward Quirk (Cap,★) ■No.8: Willem Britz ■SH: Keisuke Uchida (☆) ■SO: Hayden Cripps ■WTB: Takaaki Nakazuru, Kenki Fukuoka (☆) ■CTB: William Tupou, Derek Carpenter (★) ■FB: Shota Emi
Cheetahs ■PR: Charles Marais, Johan Coetzee ■HO: Torsten van Jaarsveld (Cap) ■LO: Justin Basson, Francois Uys ■FL: Paul Schoeman, Oupa Mohoje ■No.8: Neill Jordaan ■SH: Tian Meyer ■SO: Fred Zeilinga ■WTB: Raymond Rhule, Zee Mkhabela ■CTB: Clinton Swart, Ryno Benjamin ■FB: Clayton Blommetjies
In the 1st minute of first half, Emi got a try so the Sunwolves scored the first. Cripps scored a conversion, they lead took the lead by a score of 7 to 0. Then in the 15th minute, van Jaarsveld got a try and conversion kick was good, the Cheetahs came up to tie. Zeilinga got a panalty goal in the 22th minute, but Cripps scored a try and conversion after 3 minute. So the Sunwolves reversed by a score of 14 to 10.
Then the Cheetahs got a try, a conversion and a panalty goal one by one, they reversed by a score of 20 to 14. but Cripps got a panalty goal in the 40th minute, the score was 20 to 17 and the first half was over.
In the second hanf, the Cheetahs got a panalty goal in the 43th minute. So the Sunwolves changed the players, Sam Wykes (LO), Atsushi Sakate (HO), Takuma Asahara (PR), Masataka Mikami (PR), Kaito Shigeno (SH) and Jamie-Jerry Taulagi came off the bench until 51th minute. After that, both teams got a try and a conversion, the score was 30 to 24 in the 56th minute.
The Sunwolves changed the players again, Shokei Kin (FL) and Junpei Ogura (CTB) came off the bench so all members took part in the match. In the 62th minute, Fukuoka scored a try and Taulagi got a conversion so the Sunwolves reversed again by a score of 31 to 30.
But in the 65th minute, Asahara was a sin-bin by dangerous play, the Sunwolves had to play for fourteen players between ten minutes. So the Cheetahs continued the attack during the time, Benjamin scored a try in the 67th minute. The Cheetahs got a panalty goal in the 74th minute, finally the Cheetahs beat the Sunwolves 38 to 31. Liaki Moli of the Sunwolves was a man of the match.
Although the Sunwolves lost, there was a improvement. There were many attacks by short kicks until last match. But in this match, the Sunwolves rarely used short kicks and they tenaciously attacked by connecting passes. So the Sunwolves were able to attack for a long time and they induced the panalties of Cheetahs. If the injured players return, the Sunwolves may win first time in 2017 Super Rugby.
This youtube’s video is the movie of Sunwolves vs. Cheetahs. In the 4th round, the Sunwolves play against the Bulls in South Africa on March 17. But the Bulls did not have a match in the 3rd round and they were taking a rest, so it will be a tough match for the Sunwolves.