PANASONIC WILD KNIGHTS 42-10 KOBELCO STEELERS
TOSHIBA BRAVE LUPUS 34-22 YAMAHA JUBILO
Panasonic Wild Knights once again had Hayden Parker to thank as the Australian stand-off kicked 27 points to secure a comprehensive 42-10 victory against Kobelco Steelers and book the Kanto-based club’s place in the Lixil Cup final. Panasonic will face Toshiba Brave Lupus in the final after they saw off Ayumu Goromaru’s Yamaha Jubilo 34-22 courtesy of a Richard Kahui hat-trick.
Kobelco Steelers camped out inside the Panasonic 22 for large parts of the first half but were unable to make their territorial advantage pay as the Wild Knights resolute defence stood firm. Steelers came the closest to scoring the game’s first try mid-way through the first forty when no.10 Hideki Tanabe’s dink kick from 20 yards was adjudged not to have been touched down by a Kobelco player, upon referral to the video referee.
The Kobe outfit were punished for infringement at the ruck and in the scrum on several occasions in the first half and were duly punished by the left boot of Parker, successful from all four attempts to hand Panasonic a 12-0 lead at the interval.
A foot injury to South African flanker Andries Bekker two minutes into the second half provided Kobelco with little hope of a second-half comeback. Matters were made worse three minutes later when Panasonic ran in the first try of the game. JP Pietersen took a cross-field kick from Parker exquisitely on the full before offloading to winger Tomoki Kitagawa, who then fed Yasutaka Sasakura to go over the line much to the delight of the crowd at Tokyo’s Chichibunomiya Stadium.
Kobelco were handed a lifeline soon after though when Bekker’s replacement Matt Vant Leven crossed the line for the Steelers’ first points of the match. Stand-off Tanabe added the extras and then a penalty as Kobelco cut the deficit to 19-10.
That glimmer of hope didn’t last for long though as another Parker penalty extended the Wild Knights’ lead to 12 points. Parker then surged toward the line himself 15 minutes from time before offloading in the tackle to Springbok Pietersen who touched down for a richly-deserved try. Parker continued his perfect display in front of goal with the conversion and a drop goal three minutes later with his eighth kick of the game.
Kobelco’s tiredness became apparent in the final ten minutes as Panasonic span the ball wide again for no.15 Sasakura to surge over the line for his second try of the game, which was converted with ease by Parker. The 25-year-old stand-off added another penalty with the last action of the semi-final to cap another tremendous kicking display and ease Panasonic into the final.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Richard Kahui’s hat-trick of tries in Toshiba’s 34-22 defeat of Yamaha set up a final with Panasonic. Fellow centre Keisuke Masuda ran in two first-half tries to hand the Tokyo club a 20-17 at the break.
Kahui completed his trio of tries with two in the space of six second-half minutes to put Toshiba out of sight. Siale Piutau touched down late on for Yamaha but it proved to be merely a consolation as they succumbed to a semi-final defeat. The Shizuoka-based team will play Kobelco Steelers in next Sunday’s third-place play-off.