• Kyodo

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Munakata Sanix Blues picked up their first win of the season on the penultimate weekend of Japan Rugby Top League action as they held on to beat Toyota Industries Shuttles 32-31 on Sunday at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.

The victory, on the back of tries from Andre Esterhuizen (a brace), Dan Pryor and Benjamin Ray Yagi means Sanix will play Hino Red Dolphins next week for 13th place, while the Shuttles, who had fought back from 32-5 down, will take on Coca-Cola Red Sparks for 15th place.

Unlike previous seasons, the side finishing 16th will not automatically be relegated but will instead join the three sides above it in one-off promotion/relegation games against the top four sides in the Top Challenge League on Dec. 23.

On Sunday, the final places in the second division were determined.

NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes topped Kintetsu Liners 20-6 to claim first place and set up a playoff game with the bottom-placed team from the top flight.

Mitsubishi Sagamihara Dynaboars downed Kurita Water Gush 24-7 to finish second and will play the winner of the Shuttles versus Red Sparks game.

Kintetsu was third and will play the 14th-placed Top League side while Kurita will play the winner of the Sanix versus Hino game.

In the day’s other Top League playoff game, two tries from Josh Bekhuis helped Honda Heat defeat Canon Eagles 40-14.

Honda will now play NEC Green Rockets for ninth spot, while Canon will take on Toshiba Brave Lupus for 11th.

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