A late brace by substitute Taiki Koyama earned the Panasonic Wild Knights their fifth bonus-point win of the season, a 46-27 victory over the Toshiba Brave Lupus on Saturday.
The late charge at Kumagaya Sports and Culture Park, enabled by a steady stream of defensive lapses, saw the Top League leaders erase a 27-22 deficit following Jone Naikabula’s 50th-minute try for Toshiba.
Ryota Hasegawa, former Wallaby Daniel Heenan and Australian Dylan Riley each scored tries in the first half for Panasonic, which took a 22-17 lead into the break.
Daigo Hashimoto’s try leveled the scores six minutes after the intermission, and four minutes later Naikabula crossed after a long throw-in on a lineout took the Wild Knights by surprise.
But most of the day’s surprises were spring by Panasonic, whose dummies frequently unhinged the Brave Lupus defense. A bruising run to near the try line by David Pocock set up Takuya Yamasawa for a soft try. Rikiya Matsuda, who kicked 11 points, added the extras to make it 29-27.
Koyama then scored twice on dummies, running into space as soon as the nearest defender took his eyes off him.
The loss was Toshiba’s first of the season and left the Brave Lupus in fourth place, seven points behind the Wild Knights.
The Kobe Kobelco Steelers stayed two points back of Panasonic with a 43-6 win over the Ricoh Black Rams, with Shintaro Hayashi bagging a brace and Hayden Parker scoring eight with the boot.
Third-place Yamaha Jubilo crushed the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes 82-7 with Jayden Ngamanu and Malo Tuitama each scoring a hat trick of tries.
Fifth-place Suntory Sungoliath pounded Toyota Verblitz, who could not score until the 70th minute of a 60-14 demolition.
Elsewhere, the NTT Communications Shining Arcs scored 12 tries in a 74-11 win over the Munakata Sanix Blues, while the Honda Heat beat the Canon Eagles 39-24.