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Honda stays on course for Top League promotion

Kyodo

Honda Heat remained perfect in the Top Challenge 1 series and on track for promotion to the Top League with a 33-16 win over Mitsubishi Sagamihara Dynaboars on Sunday.

Lomano Lemeki kicked two penalties and a conversion, and scored two late tries at Osaka’s Kintetsu Hanazono Rugby Ground to all but seal a spot for Honda in next season’s Top League with 10 points from two games. The winner of the Top Challenge 1, which concludes Jan. 25, will earn automatic promotion to the top flight.

The other three clubs will need to fight their way into the Top League through relegation-promotion playoffs on Feb. 14. Dynaboars and Kyuden Voltex are neck and neck with five points each from two games, while Kamaishi Seawaves are bottom of the table without a point after losing 26-17 to Kyuden.

In Sunday’s last game in Osaka, Honda twice came from behind, with captain Goki Amano scoring a first-half try and Lemeki’s second penalty making it 11-6 at the break.

Trailing 16-11 after the third penalty of the game by Dynaboars’ Kenta Nishidate, Honda took over behind tries from Koji Nakata and Yang Young Hun, with Lemeki putting the game out of reach with his brace.

Next Sunday’s final round will see the Dynaboars play the Seawaves and the Heat play the Voltex, with both games at Fukuoka’s Level-5 Stadium. A single bonus point will be enough to send Honda racing into the Top League.

The team finishing second in Top Challenge 1 will face Toyota Industries Shuttles for a shot at Top League promotion. The third-place top challenger will play Coca-Cola Red Sparks, while the last-place club will have to topple Kubota Spears to earn admission to the Top League.