Shinya Makabe of Suntory in action against Toshiba Brave
Lupus in the Japan Top League final at Prince Chichibu
Stadium in Tokyo. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Former Australia flanker George Smith led Suntory
Sungoliath to a second straight Japanese rugby title with an
all-action performance as the Tokyo side beat their city rivals
Toshiba Brave Lupus 19-3 on Sunday.
Two tries by winger Daishi Murata and one from Samoan utility
back Tusi Pisi helped Suntory extend their unbeaten run to 21
matches at a packed Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground,
but it was the 32-year-old former Wallaby captain who stole
Suntory were twice reduced to 14-men when Murata and then
South African World Cup-winning scrumhalf Fourie du Preez
were sin-binned but Smith made up for the numerical
disadvantage much to the relief of his coach.
"It was a difficult time," Suntory coach Okubo said of the
yellow cards. "But we had George. He can pass as well be a
presence at the scrums and lineouts."
Quick thinking by the canny Du Preez set Murata free to score
in the corner after only eight minutes of the grand final
before English flyhalf David Hill reduced the deficit to 5-3
with a penalty.
Murata was again the beneficiary of a team mate's shrewd play
when he collected a cross kick from flyhalf Kosei Ono to
score his second try in the 34th minute. New Zealand centre
Nicholas Ryan added the conversion to make it 12-3 at
Murata was sent to the sin bin at the start of the second
half after one of many Suntory infringements, with Du Preez
following him 20 minutes later but Toshiba could not breach
the Suntory defence, marshalled expertly by Smith.
Replacement Pisi then sealed the win with Suntory's third try
after the champions forced a turnover deep in their own half.
"We just couldn't seem to get our attack going in the first
half," Toshiba coach Kenichi Wada was quoted as saying by
"Suntory's defence was very good. Though we let them play to
Suntory won all 13 matches in the regular season before
dispatching South African centre Jaque Fourie's Kobe Steel
Kobelco Steelers in the semi-finals.
Five-times champions Toshiba finished second in the league
campaign and reached the final with a playoff win over
Panasonic Wild Knights, who signed All Black World
Cup-winning centre Sonny Bill Williams for part of their
Suntory's victory was their third Top League title after
their 2007-08 success.
"We believed in ourselves and in our rugby and that gave us
this result," Suntory captain Shinya Makabe said.