Wild Knights retain Japanese crown

JP Pietersen's Panasonic Wild Knights secured their second consecutive Top League title as they defeated Yamaha Júbilo 30-12 in the Tokyo final.

The match was played at a frantic pace, with a few big hits, glorious offloads and blistering runs by the wings from both teams.

Berrick Barnes, who last week produced a match-winning performance in the semi-final, opened the scoring for the Wild Knights with an early penalty, before Yamaha responded with a try after turning down a kickable penalty of their own.

Barnes, building on last week's performance, once again took control of the match, executing a well-weighted cross-kick for the Wild Knights' first try, and later scored his team's third.

The Wild Knights had a player sent to the sin bin, and Yamaha capitalised on their numerical advantage to score another try just before half-time, as they trailed 23-12 at the break.

That would be the last of their scoring as Pietersen, on as a replacement for a battered Barnes in the 56th minute, played an influential role in the Wild Knights' fourth try, when he gathered a loose ball and offloaded to the wing to seal the title for Robbie Deans' side.

Photo: Japan Rugby