The Ricoh Black Rams picked up their third win of the Japan Rugby Top League season Friday night, beating the Canon Eagles 21-17 at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.
Two late penalties from Bryce Hegarty sealed the win and saw the Black Rams go level on points with Yamaha Jubilo at the top of the White Conference ahead of Saturday’s seven games.
“It’s always tough playing against Canon and it was a really physical game up front,” said Ricoh’s director of rugby Hiroyuki Kamitori.
Black Rams captain Daisuke Hamano agreed, saying the game was won at the breakdown and in the set piece.
Canon head coach Allister Coetzee, meanwhile, was left to rue some late indiscipline from his side.
“Our defense was outstanding, but in the end individual mistakes cost us,” the former Springboks coach said. “We gave away some soft penalties when we didn’t need to be offside because our defense was good enough.”
On a damp autumnal evening, both sides defied the conditions to give the vocal crowd of 6,632 an entertaining game of rugby.
Canon flyhalf Yu Tamura set the tone in the ninth minute when his half break and offload put Fred Zeilinga away for the opening try.
Having spent much of the opening 24 minutes forced to defend, the Black Rams pulled level when Tim Bateman crossed, though not for the first or last time the decision was delayed while the TMO looked at a possible infringement that had no impact on the score.
With both defenses holding firm, the only other score of the half came in the 37th minute when Kohei Horigome banged over a penalty to ensure Ricoh went into the sheds at the break leading 10-7.
Zeilinga brought the sides level in the 45th minute after the Eagles had dominated the opening minutes of the second stanza.
Ricoh struck back six minutes later when wing Amanaki Lotoahea finished off some good work from his pack before a penalty try for a deliberate knock-on saw the Eagles retake the lead in the 64th minute.
It was short-lived though, as Hegarty took both opportunities that came his way to ensure Ricoh picked up four points for the win and left Canon with one victory, one draw and two losses to their name.
Despite the defeat, Coetzee said he was proud of the effort of his young Canon team, adding “The competition is far from over.”