The Panasonic Wild Knights and Toshiba Brave Lupus battled it out for the Japanese Top League title this past weekend, and the match ended in thrilling fashion, with Panasonic able to hang on for a 27-26 victory and their third consecutive Top League title.
With time up it looked as though the win was in the bag, but a great piece of attacking play from Toshiba’s Richard Kahui freed up Francois Steyn out wide, before a covering tackle required them to swing play back the other direction.
It was Kahui again, this time with a cross kick, that created a stunning try for Shohei Toyoshima, a full 90 seconds after the final hooter.
That meant Steyn needed to step up for a shot at glory.
“What can you say? What a great conclusion to a great season of rugby in Japan,” Wild Knights coach Robbie Deans said after the match at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.
“That had everything that makes the game what it is. A good contest up front. A tough contest at the breakdown and both teams risking their hand.
“Obviously the emotion would be very different if the kick had been successful at the death, but looking at the weight of the season and the weight of the encounter we probably warranted the outcome.”
Former Crusaders and Wallabies coach Deans guided the Wild Knights to their third straight title, making him the first coach in the Top League to win silverware three years in a row.
Hayden Parker, who converted three tries and landed two penalties on the day, finished with a perfect 28-from-28 from the tee for the season.
NOTE: The highlights below are almost 15 minutes long with English commentary. If you would prefer shorter highlights (Japanese commentary), we’ve added some on page two of this post.
credit: the tight five & @freemanrugbyJPN for the quotes