Rugby: Seiya Ozaki hat-trick lifts Sungoliath over Brave Lupus
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Seiya Ozaki's second hat-trick of the season earned him man-of-the-match honors Sunday in Tokyo Sungoliath's 40-34 derby win over Brave Lupus Tokyo in Japan Rugby League One.
The Sungoliath wing, who has 13 tries this season, made the most of his open-field running ability, while Brave Lupus' Fiji-born pair of center Seta Tamanivalu and wing Jone Naikabula combined for four electric tries to keep the game in doubt.
With Brave Lupus trailing 13-3, Naikabula raced down the flank and broke through a pair of tacklers to score. Ozaki, however, answered in kind three minutes later, taking a pass from Kotaro Matsushima, running half the length of the pitch and blowing past three defenders.
"That was a great pass from Matsushima, and I was able to make the most of my strength, which is picking a good path to run," Ozaki said.
"We knew this was going to be a hard-fought game, so we prepared as thoroughly as we possibly could all week."
Tom Taylor's second conversion, after Naikabula took a long Tamanivalu pass to score just before the half, brought Brave Lupus within three at 20-17.
Former All Black Aaron Cruden, who kicked 17 points, exchanged penalty goals with Taylor early in the second half before Tamanivalu collected a Taylor kick into space to cross for his first, putting Brave Lupus in front.
Ozaki scored his second, set up by a Matsushima run, to put Sungoliath back ahead, with Cruden's conversion making it 30-27.
Tamanivalu completed his brace from a behind-the-back Naikabula offload to restore his team's lead in the 60th minute, only for Ozaki to seal the victory by completing his hat-trick with a late try.
Elsewhere, defending champions Saitama Wild Knights dominated the breakdown from start to finish in a six-try 45-0 demolition of Green Rockets Tokatsu, while Shizuoka Blue Revs also scored six tries in a 34-14 bonus-point away victory over the winless Hanazono Liners.