Suntory Sungoliath will win the championship of 16/17 Top League

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In December 24 2016, there was a match of the Yamaha Jubilo vs. the Suntory Sungoliath at Yamaha Stadium in Shizuoka Prefecture. This match was a matchday13 of the Japan Rugby Top League, both teams were 12 wins and no loss. But in the total point, the Yamaha Jubilo was 57, the Suntory Sungoliath was 56. So the Jubilo were the 1st place and the Sungoliath were the 2nd place.

In the Sungoliath, Kotaro matsushima(FB) of the Japan national rugby union player was missed by an injury. And in the Jubilo, Yuki Yatomi(SH) returned for the first time in two months. So the starting members of both teams are as follows;
☆:Japan national rugby union player of 2016 Autumn Internationals
★:the Sunwolves’s player of 2017 Super Rugby

The Yamaha Jubilo ■PR: Koki Yamamoto(☆★), Heiichiro Ito(☆★) ■HO: Takeshi Hino(☆★) ■LO: Yuya Odo, Duke Krishnan ■FL: Mose Tuialii, Yuhimaru Mimura(☆★, Cap)■No.8: Rikiya Matsumoto ■SH: Yuki Yatomi(★) ■SO: Tatsuhiko Otao ■CTB: Viliami Tahitua, Masatoshi Miyazawa ■WTB: Havili Rocky, Chikara Ito ■FB: Gerhard Van den Heever

The Suntory Sungoliath ■PR: Shintaro Ishihara, Genki Sudo ■HO: Yusuke Aoki ■LO: Joe Wheeler, Shinya Makabe(★)■FL: Tui Hendrik, George Smith ■No.8: Juntaro Takemoto ■SH: Yutaka Nagare(Cap)■SO: Kosei Ono ■CTB: Shota Emi, Takaaki Nakazuru ■WTB: Stephen Donald, Daishi Murata ■FB: Kenta Tsukamoto

There were over 10,000 spectators in the Yamaha Stadium. In the 4th minute of the first half, the first try was scored. The Jubilo’s high punt was washed away by the wind, so Tahitua catched the ball and passed to Ito. Ito scored a try and Van den Heever got a conversion kick, the Jubilo were the first to score. Van den Heever also scored a penalty goal, the Jubilo took the lead in score of 10 to 0. But in the 15th minute, the Sungoliath took the ball from Scrum and Nakazuru scored a try from a pass. Ono got a conversion kick, the Sungoliath fought back with score of 10 to 7. It was 14th try for Nakazuru in 2016 season, he is a try leader in the Top League.

After that, the match reached a stalemate for a while. Ono’s penalty kick slightly left the goal post in the 26th minute, both teams were unable to score points. But in the 32th minute, the Sungoliath broke the Jubilo’ defense line by connecting the pass, former All Blacks Donald scored a try in the center. Ono also got a conversion kick, the Sungoliath reversed the Jubilo 14 to 10. After 5 minute, the Jubilo took the ball from the line-out and scored a penalty try by the Maul. Van den Heever got a conversion kick, the Jubilo reversed 17 to 14. But just before the end of first half, the Sungoliath connected the pass from Smith to Ono and Tui scored a try finally. Ono also got a conversion kick, the Sungoliath reversed again 21 to 17.

The Sungoliath also got ahead in the second half. Ono got a penalty goal, the Sungoliath took the lead in score of 24 to 17. So the Jubilo changed the players, Uwe Helu(FL, ☆★)and Male Sa’u(CTB)came off the bench. But the Sungoliath’s momentum did not change, they connected the pass and Ishihara scored a try finally. Ono also got a penalty goal, the Sungoliath took the lead moreover in score of 31 to 17. After that, Donald contacted the opponent and became a concussion, so replaced with Derek Carpenter(CTB, ★)in the 55th minute.

Then the Jubilo’ counterattack began at that time. But their line-out ball was taken to the Sungoliath. And they approached the goal line with consecutive attacks, but they could not scored a try. So because changeing the flow of the match, both teams changed the Scrum Half. Fumihiro Yoshizawa of the Jubilo and Atsushi Hiwasa of the Sungoliath came off the bench in 67th minute. Then, the pass of Jubilo was connected, Ito scored a try again in the 70th minute. Van den Heever also got a conversion kick, the Jubilo fought back with score of 31 to 24.

After that the Sungoliath changed the player, Kensuke Hatakeyama(PR, ☆)came off the bench and he tightened the team. The effect appears, Ono scored a panalty goal and Tsukamoto scored a try in just before the end of seccnd half. At the same time as Ono’s conversion goal, the whistle at the end of the match was blown. So the Sungoliath beat the Jubilo 41 to 24.

The Sungoliath studied the weakness of Jubilo, and took the ball even at Jubilo’s good scrum. Other, Smith of fomer Australian rugby union player took the ball with jackal sometime. Conversely, the Jubilo were out of breath in the second half and dropped the 2nd place. Then the Sungoliath took the 1st place with 60 points. The rest of the season was two matches, but both teams are against the lower team. So the Sungoliath will win the championship of the Top League for the first time in the last 4 years. It will be the winning of third time for them.

This youtube’s video is the movie of this match. The Sungoliath are winning at the aggressive rugby that like as this match.

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