HIROSHIMA – A try from Ricoh rookie Shuhei Matsuhashi — his third of the day — seconds before the final hooter handed the Black Rams a 33-28 win over Toshiba Brave Lupus on Sunday in the Japan Rugby Top League.
The 22-year-old No. 8, who is in the extended Japan squad preparing for the November tests, also crossed in the 20th and 59th minutes and was named man-of-the-match as Ricoh picked up its fourth win of the season to finish Round 8 in ninth spot in the rankings with 18 points, two behind Toshiba.
Having started the season with three straight wins, the Brave Lupus have now lost four of their past five games, an unheard-of run for the five-time champions.
Matsuhashi was joined on the scoresheet at Coca-Cola West Hiroshima Stadium by Daisuke Komatsu and Amanaki Lotoahea, with Daniel Peters kicking four conversions.
Toshiba’s lone try in the first half came from Cory Jane, with Michael Leitch, Futoshi Mori and Shohei Toyoshima crossing in the second stanza, Takahiro Ogawa converting all four efforts.
NEC Green Rockets and Kubota Spears played out the season’s first draw, when a penalty from Yu Tamura two minutes after the final hooter drifted wide and saw the sides finish 15-15 at Niigata City Athletic Stadium.
Tamura scored all his side’s points, courtesy of two tries, a conversion and a penalty — all in the first half.
Katoni Otukolo and Takuro Takahashi both crossed the chalk with Hideyuki Moriwaki converting the first to go with a 42nd-minute penalty as the Spears fought back from 15-0 down.
The two points both teams receive see Kubota in 10th place in the standings on 15 points and NEC 12th with 11.
In the day’s other game, Toyota Verblitz hammered Coca-Cola Red Sparks 57-3 to go fifth with 25 points.
Verblitz ran in eight tries to leave Cola in 14th spot with 8 points.
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