Day 2: 30 Mens Overview & Japan v Manawatu Match Report
Canterbury followed up yesterday's strong performance with another hattrick of wins today to assert their authority on the Over 30 Mens grade. Their biggest challenge look to be the North Harbour team that had a similarly flawless day. Yesterday Harbour let Canterbury get away to a lead in the first half of their round game and couldn't quite catch up; if they meet in the final tomorrow they will need to be 'on' from the first minute.
Manawatu v Japan Match Report
After yesterday's match were overshadowed by the theft of their possessions on arrival to New Zealand, Japan started this game on fire, with a touch down on their first attacking possession, followed by a strong drive to the line on their next possession, and an accurate long ball for Jun Uchikawa to score.
It took a while for the home team to find their feet but soon enough Papa Leota got outside his marker to score the opening touchdown for Manawatu.
Japan then responded with another score when the Manawatu link was beaten and Katsuichi Higuchi scored out wide.
Manawatu finally got their attacking pattern going after Japan were penalised repeatedly on their own line gifting Manawatu back to back sets, on which they capitalised when Michael Petley scored between the Japanese middles for a 3-2 score at halftime.
The first half was punctuated by the energy and enthusiasm of the Japanese players. Their agility and speed at the ruck was evident, and their defensive pattern was effective. Manawatu would have been disappointed by their first half ball handling and error rate
Manawatu lifted though, and levelled the score in the opening minutes of the second half when Papa Leota received a delayed pass that held up the Japanese defenders, and created the short hole.
It then took another 10 minutes for Manawatu to exert their influence on the game, against a tiring Japanese team. Brett Crib stepped back and dove under the Japanese defenders to beat the late touch attempt and Manawatu took the lead for the first time in the game. The respite was short for Manawatu when Japan drove hard down the field, allowing Takashi Ayashiro to cut back against the scrambling defence, beat three defenders, and level the score at 4 – 4
Manawatu then poured on the pressure to score 5 uncontested touchdowns and run out the winners 9 - 4.