Teikyo University and Meiji University will contest the final of the 54th collegiate rugby championship following Tuesday’s semifinals at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.
Teikyo, aiming for its ninth straight title, beat Tokai University 31-12 in front of 20,237 on the back of two tries from inside center Nicholas McCurran, while Meiji came from behind to beat Daito Bunka University 43-21 thanks to a standout performance from No. 12 Yusuke Kajimura.
The final, to be played on Jan. 7 at the same venue, will pit the old guard against the new, with 12-time champion Meiji looking to bag its first title since 1997.
“We will challenge to the end and hopefully be the first (Meiji) champion in 21 years,” head coach Masahiko Niwa said.
McCurran’s two tries came after Tokai had scored straight from the kickoff through Akihide Onogi, following a good offload from Ryuji Noguchi, one of a number of Japan internationals on the field.
The New Zealand-born inside center’s scores came either side of one by Tomoya Kimura as Teikyo capitalized on a number of handling errors from Tokai.
Koki Takeyama, who finished the day with four conversions and a penalty from as many attempts, killed off Tokai’s challenge when he touched down in the 61st minute, ensuring that Kazufumi Yamasuga’s late try was nothing more than a consolation effort for Tokai.
“Tokai put us under a lot of pressure but we showed a lot of patience and played the game at our pace,” Teikyo captain Kosuke Horikoshi said.
The first 40 minutes of the earlier game was dominated by the forwards, with Amato Fakatava and Jumpei Yukawa crossing for Daito and Ryuga Hashimoto rumbling over for Meiji.
But as the game wore on, Meiji’s backs took over with Kajimura to the fore.
The fourth-year center scored once and created two other tries as Tomoya Yamamura bagged a brace, with Hinata Takei and Shotaro Matsuo also touching down.
Yukawa added a second for Daito, whose big forwards were unable to last the distance against the fleet-footed Meiji backs.
“We thought that today’s game would be tight and we were able to maintain our intensity for the full 80 minutes,” said Niwa.
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