KOBS Barbarians vs Keio University Japan

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As with most Japanese sides, pound for pound they were exceptionally competitive in the tackle and breakdown and their fitness levels were very high. Their tackling was also spot on with very few opportunities to create phase play and cross the advantage line coming our way in the first half. With this possession and territory dominance we were going to leak points and going into halftime, we were probably lucky to only be down 12-nil with Keio scoring two tries and converting one of these.

In the second half we started to look better and were dominant in the set plays and nearly all the scrums (although they did pinch a tighthead) and some phase ball and possession in their 22 allowed Michael Rivers to cross wide out in Kobbies corner. Dan Cassin took the conversion and like another kiwi left footer with the same initials he put over the dead eye kick from near the touchline.

Both sides were probably guilty of squandering play with pushed passes and poor kicks frequently turning a lot of ball over. With about five minutes to go however, a turnover by Keio in our 22 allowed us to do an 80 metre sweeping backline movement which gave the Kings replacement flanker an easy try under the posts. With Cassin putting over the easy conversion, we managed to control territory before Rivo thumped the ball into touch at full time for the 14-12 win.

In all the game was played in great spirit and it was a nice change to play an opposition which were very well drilled and probably would give many club sides around a good test. We were also able to observe some of the facets of their game which we could take on board, especially in terms of their organisation and defence which was exceptional. I am sure we were able to teach them some of the skills and little aspects of our game as well, including not handing the opposition the ball after you have concede a full arm penalty. I haven