Sanyo Wild Knights won the 45th All-Japan Championship on Sunday beating Suntory Sungoliath 40-18.
A brace of second- half tries from Ryu Koliniasi Holani to go with earlier efforts by Takashi Miyake and Atsushi Tanabe, who also weighed in with four conversions and four penalty goals from as many attempts, saw Sanyo make up for the disappointment of losing to Suntory in the final of the Microsoft Cup final.
“It was revenge, nothing else,” said a Holani.
Suntory’s points came from tries by Koji Taira and Ryan Nicholas, who also slotted over two penalty goals and a conversion.
“All credit to Sanyo,” Nicholas said. “They deserve to come away with something after the season they have had.”
Played in front of 16,117 fans in ideal conditions, Sanyo raced out to a 17-0 lead as Miyake and Tanabe made the most of a powerful performance from Epi Taione.
Playing his last game in Japan, Taione was a constant thorn in the side of the Suntory defence, and the ovation he received when replaced by Phil O’Reilly in the 56th minute was entirely justified.
“We deserved to win,” said Taione. “We have the better players and have been the better team all year.”
An early change at halfback by Suntory coach Katsuyuki Kiyomiya seemed to spark some life into his players and Nicholas’ try and two penalties closed the gap to six points at the break.
But the second half belonged to Sanyo.
Holani showed why John Kirwan was so keen to get him into the Japan squad by crossing in the 48th minute when little seemed on, and Tanabe continued to excel with the boot as Sanyo stretched their lead to 30-11.
Koji Taira scored a well-worked try for Suntory in the 31st minute but Holani’s second five-pointer and a conversion and touchline penalty from Tanabe rounded off the game.
“The result doesn’t lie,” said Kiyomiya.
An interesting Note: This is Sanyo’s first ever win in a Final. Sanyo has appeared in 10 previous finals–both corporate and Microsoft Cup– and has lost nine and drawn one
The Teams were:
Starting XV: 1- Akira Ozaki, 2- Yusuke Aoki, 3- Yosuke Ikegaya, 4- Simon Maling, 5- Koji Shinotsuka, 6- Naoya Okubo, 7- Shinki Gen, 8- Juntaro Takemoto, 9- Kotaro Tahara, 10- Shin Kanto, 11- Hirotoki Onozawa, 12- Ryan Nicholas, 13- Koji Taira, 14- Daigo Yamashita (c), 15- Go Aruga.
Replacements: 16- Takashi Yamaoka, 17- Kohei Maeda, 18- Takahiro Hayano, 19- Junji Takatani, 20- Kiyonori Tanaka, 21- Naoya Nomura and 22- Rocky Havili.
Sanyo Wild Knights:
Starting XV: 1- Jungo Kikawa, 2- Mitsugu Yamamoto, 3- Tomokazu Soma, 4- Dai Kawaguchi, 5- Yoichi Iijima, 6- Epeli Taione, 7- Daishi Wakamatsu, 8- Ryu Koliniasi Holani, 9- Fumiaki Tanaka, 10- Tony Brown, 11- Takashi Miyake, 12- Jumpei Enomoto (c), 13- Seiichi Shimomura, 14- Tomoki Kitagawa,15- Atsushi Tanabe.
Replacements:16- Yoshitake Mizuma, 17- Kwang-Mo Kim, 18- Jun Sakaida, 19- Phil O’Reilly, 20- Wataru Ikeda, 21- Masakazu Irie and 22- Takashi Yoshida.