3rd place play-off
The last match of 2017 was the 3rd place play-off. It was a game that meant more to Yamaha than merely a playoff for 3rd place; the playmaker and legend of 14 seasons, Tatsuhiko Otao, announced his retirement.
Yamaha were up against Toyota Verblitz. They met in the opening match of the season.
Five minutes into the first half, Male Sa'u was suspended for 10 minutes. His tackle was judged to be dangerous. A penalty goal was given and the score was 0-3 in Toyota’s favor.
The game then restarted, with Yamaha on the attack. In the 19th minute, Yamaha’s Hiroto Kobayashi dribbled a loose ball, passed to Shota Tanaka running up from the rear, with Tanaka then scoring a try in the right-hand corner. With Goromaru’s conversion they came from behind to take the lead at 7-3.
Although some of the bigger players were absent from the lineup, the 8 forwards, including Koki Yamamoto, Takeshi Hino, and Heiichiro Ito, who have each played for the national team, put pressure on Toyota and continued to push forward.
Taking advantage of Toyota’s defenses down, Tatsuhiko Otao booted a kick pass that Male Sa'u caught for a try.
Moreover, in the 35th minute Keisuke Yagishita broke through the center of a close formation to score a try. The first half finished with a score of 21-3 in Yamaha’s favor.
In the 4th minute of the second half, Sa'u scored a try after flying at top speed down the center of the pitch. With Goromaru’s conversion, the score was now 28-3. The opposition had no real chances and they scored just one more try, with the game finishing at 28-10.
After the game, the playing coach, Otao, stated with confidence:“Today’s game will serve us well for the next season.”
His strongest wish is to see his young team win the top league.