Rugby: Leaders Sungoliath battle past Blue Revs to secure playoff spot


New Zealand international Damian McKenzie kicks a conversion for Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath in their 56-27 League One win over Shizuoka Blue Revs at Tokyo’s Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground on April 17, 2022. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) – League One leaders Tokyo Sungoliath overcame a six-point halftime deficit to defeat Shizuoka Blue Revs 56-27 on Sunday, moving seven points clear at the top after a bonus-point win and securing their spot in a four- team playoff for the title.

Sungoliath conceded four first-half tries to Blue Revs, eighth in the table, but regrouped to regain the lead early in the second half before stretching the lead at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.

Following an early penalty, Sungoliath scored in the fifth minute after wing and captain Seiya Ozaki stole a pass inside his own half and ran near the entire pitch to set up hooker Shunta Nakamura to go over.

Blue Revs No. 8 Kwagga Smith scored from a maul before Sungoliath center Samu Kerevi crossed down the right for a 15-5 lead after 13 minutes, but a 24th-minute penalty try for Blue Revs came with Sungoliath No. 8 Tevita Tatafu getting sin-binned.

Smith again scored in a maul in the 31st minute as the Blue Revs led for the first time and flanker Shoji Takuma also went over in the 37th minute as sharp-looking underdogs racked up phases, going into the break leading 24-18.

But Sungoliath were ahead within two minutes of the restart, Tatafu finding his way out of a ruck in the middle to score between the posts and fullback Damian McKenzie’s conversion handing them a 25-24 lead.

Ozaki caught a Blue Revs kick deep in the opposition half to score five minutes later and two substitutes, flanker Tom Sanders and scrumhalf Naoto Saito, also went over as Blue Revs started making errors.

Ozaki’s younger brother Taiga also came off the bench and showed a burst of pace in scoring Sungoliath’s seventh and last try of the match three minutes from time.

In the day’s other game, Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay hammered Green Rockets Tokatsu 71-41.

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