Suntory Sungoliath will face Panasonic Wild Knights in the Top League Final next Sunday, following their comfortable 49-7 win against an out-of-sorts Yamaha side. Suntory had put the game beyond doubt by the break with four unanswered converted tries, crossing three more times after the interval to book their place in the final and keep them on track for consecutive titles.
Toyota Verblitz, making their first semi-final appearance in seven seasons, came up just short against Panasonic as Jake White’s side lost 17-11 to the four-time Top League champions. Kenki Fukuoka and Digby Ioane’s first-half tries for Panasonic were enough to see them over the line at Yanmar Stadium in Osaka.
In the relegation play-offs, Coca-Cola Red Sparks, having lost all 13 of their regular season matches, mustered a timely first victory of the campaign against NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes. With the scores level at 14-14, an 80th-minute try from rookie scrum half Masafumi Tanabe condemned NTT Docomo to the direct relegation play-off.
Kintetsu will be the opponents for NTT Docomo in that game next weekend, with their dismal season reaching new lows with a 29-8 defeat to Munakata Sanix Blues in Nagoya. 16 points from experienced fly-half Hiroshi Tashiro ensure Munakata will not take part in the direct relegation play-off, while the loser of Kintetsu and NTT Docomo will be relegated to the Top Challenge League.
In the 5th-8th place play-offs, Kobelco Steelers were 19-10 winners against Ricoh Black Rams, while Toshiba overcame NEC 29-22 courtesy of a brace of tries from Richard Kahui.
In the 9th-12th place play-offs, Kubota lost 31-30 to Canon in a tough-fought affair, while NTT Com prevailed 27-19 against Toyota Industries Shuttles.