Kwagga Smith scored a crucial second-half try to help Yamaha Jubilo get their Top League campaign off to a successful start by beating Toyota Verblitz in the first round this weekend.
In a tightly fought encounter, a conversion from Jubilo fullback Ayumu Gorumaru proved the ultimate difference between the two sides, who went into the break tied at 19-19, having both scored three first-half tries. Willie le Roux grabbed one of Verblitz’s tries, while flyhalf Lionel Cronje slotted a conversion before giving Verblitz a momentary lead with a try of his own in the 50th minute.
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Bok flank Smith, entering his second season with Jubilo, helped turn the game in the home side’s favour as he went over in the 73rd minute. Verblitz nearly snuck a draw as they replied with a try five minutes later, but a missed conversion meant that they had to accept the loss. Carl Wegner played at lock for Verblitz.
Meanwhile, Damian de Allende made his first appearance for the Wild Knights as they beat the Kubota Spears 34-11. With a star-studded lineup which included Japanese stars Keita Inagaki and Kenki Fukuoka as well as All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock, the home side proved too strong as Fukuoka grabbed a brace of tries to steer them to a win. The Spears had a South African second row of Ruan Botha and David Bulbring, while No 8 Duane Vermeulen was in the loose trio with Japan vice-captain Pieter Labuschagne. Fullback Gerhard van den Heever scored the Spears’ only points, kicking two penalties and dotting down for a try in the second half.
Fellow Springboks RG Snyman and Malcolm Marx both also enjoyed successful starts to the season with their respective teams. Snyman was part of the Honda Heat side which beat the Black Rams 28-5, while Marx made his first start for the Shining Arcs as they claimed a 29-20 victory against the Red Dolphins. Sylvian Mahuza was at fullback for the Arcs, who had Wallaby Christian Lealiifano at inside centre. Paul Schoeman started at flank for the Honda Heat.
Riaan Viljoen got on the scoresheet as the Red Hurricanes claimed a 31-24 win over the Mitsubishi Dynaboars. Viljoen, at fullback for the Hurricanes, scored a try in the 77th minute to put the game to bed, while Lourens Erasmus had a solid outing at flank for the home side.
Notably, the weekend also proved fruitful for New Zealanders as Dan Carter scored 18 points, including a try and five conversions, to steer Kobe Steel to a 50-16 victory over the Canon Eagles. Brodie Retallick also grabbed a try for the Steel, scoring after the hooter.
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