The Sunwolves wrapped up their second Super Rugby season on a winning note Saturday, coming from behind to beat the Blues 48-21.
Filo Tiatia’s side demolished the three-time winners from Auckland in sweltering heat, which reached 43 C at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.
Timothy Lafaele led the way with three tries, Keisuke Uchida, Ryohei Yamanaka, Kaito Shigeno and Yoshitaka Tokunaga also crossed the chalk and there was a penalty try for good measure as the Sunwolves erased a 21-14 halftime deficit by erupting for six second-half tries.
“That’s one of the best performances I’ve seen from this team,” said Tiatia, who was assistant coach in the team’s debut season.
“We were resilient and competitive for the full 80 minutes. It was a great spectacle and the way we defended allowed us to create pressure and score some enterprising tries, which is difficult to do against a good side like the Blues.”
Blues coach Tana Umaga — who played alongside Tiatia at club, Super and test-match level — agreed.
“I have to congratulate the Sunwolves,” he said. “They deserved the win and they won well. They showed great fortitude after (two big losses) in South Africa.”
The game started with the Sunwolves, who finished the season 2-13, competitive but still slipping off a few tackles. And with a couple of calls going their way, James Parsons and Gerard Cowley-Tuioti gave the visitors an early 14-0 lead.
But the hosts then made their intent known with Lafaele and Uchida going over either side of a Michael Collins intercept try as the teams turned around with the Blues up 21-14.
The Blues ended the season with a 7-7-1 record.