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Rugby: Valu seals Wild Knights late comeback against Eagles

Rikiya Matsuda, center, of Saitama Wild Knights catches the ball during the first half of a Japan Rugby League One match against Yokohama Eagles on Jan. 28, 2023, at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium in Saitama Prefecture, eastern Japan. (Kyodo)

KUMAGAYA, Japan (Kyodo) -- Asaeli Ai Valu dotted down on the stroke of full time and Rikiya Matsuda nailed the conversion as Saitama Wild Knights came back to defeat Yokohama Eagles 21-19 and remain unbeaten on top of the Japan Rugby League One table Saturday.

    South African fullback SP Marais scored a try and slotted two conversions for Yokohama, but a pair of first-half misses from the kicking tee ultimately proved costly for the visitors at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium.

    Halasili Sione's late converted try primed Yokohama to inflict the first defeat of the season on the Robbie Deans-coached Wild Knights, before former Japan prop Valu spoiled the party by crossing for a 19-19 deadlock, with Matsuda staying cool to clinch the win.

    In other League One action, Brave Lupus Tokyo pummeled Hanazono Liners 60-14, leaving the promoted side winless at the bottom of the standings.

    Toyota Verblitz overcame a 14-9 halftime deficit and three yellow cards to beat Kobe Steelers 38-21.

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