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Rugby: Verblitz brush aside Black Rams to retain playoff hopes

Male Sa'u carries the ball for Toyota Verblitz in the second half of their 64-17 League One victory over Ricoh Black Rams Tokyo at Tokyo's Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground on April 30, 2022. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Toyota Verblitz scored 10 tries and overpowered Ricoh Black Rams Tokyo 64-17 in League One action on Saturday to stay in the hunt for the fourth and final spot for the playoffs with one round of games to play.

    Verblitz have moved up to 46 points with the bonus-point win at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground in Tokyo, two ahead of Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo and five ahead of Yokohama Canon Eagles, who both play on Sunday.

    Male Sa'u, who was part of the Japan team at their memorable 2015 World Cup campaign, sped down the left before setting up fellow center Charlie Lawrence to open the scoring in the ninth minute for Toyota.

    Kyo Yoshida got their second six minutes later after finding a gap in the Black Rams defense, with the flanker outmuscling multiple challenges on the line to ground the ball.

    They were dealt a blow when Japan No. 8 Kazuki Himeno went off injured in the 19th minute but a third try soon followed as flanker Masato Furukawa dived over following a scrum to make it 17-0.

    The Black Rams finally found a breakthrough on the half-hour mark from a scrum down the left, flyhalf Isaac Lucas gaining some yards and flanker Daiki Yanagawa diving over by the right pole.

    But Verblitz responded through Daichi Akiyama as the lock completed a smooth attack deep in the opposing half as Verblitz went into the break 24-7 up.

    Verblitz were quick off the mark upon the restart, fullback Willie Le Roux breaking clear down the left before sending a diagonal punt into space that was grounded by wing Taichi Takahashi.

    Le Roux and center Yuki Okada added a try each to increase the lead to 45-7 with 55 minutes on the clock before Yuki Ikeda crossed for the Black Rams.

    Scrumhalf Kenta Fukuda, Okada and lock Patrick Tuipulotu rounded out the scoring for Toyota before Ricoh center Yuta Kurihara added a consolation effort after the hooter.

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