17:30 28 January 2017
Rugby: Kintetsu, Coca-Cola, Toyota Industries stay up in Top League
TOKYO, Jan. 28, Kyodo
The makeup of next season's Japan Rugby Top League was determined Saturday following the final round of promotion playoffs, with the three incumbents all keeping their place in the top flight with wins over the second- to fourth-ranked regional teams.
In Osaka, Kintetsu Liners were far too strong for Top Kyushu champions Kyuden Voltex running in seven tries in a 47-0 win. Coca-Cola Red Sparks downed Top East runners-up Hino Red Dolphins 32-22 in Fukuoka, while Toyota Industries Shuttles topped Top East champions Mitsubishi Sagamihara Dynaboars 33-21 in Nagoya.
The results mean there is just one change in the top flight with NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes, who went unbeaten in Top West and the Top Challenge Series, replacing Honda Heat, who were automatically relegated after finishing bottom of the country's premier division.
Saturday's three losers will take part in the new second division, the Top Challenge League, alongside Honda, Chubu Electric Power, Chugoku Electric Power, Kamaishi Seawaves and Mazda Blue Zoomers.
At Paloma Mizuho Rugby Stadium, the Shuttles, who finished 15th in the Top League, were indebted to their international contingent, in particular Ryan Kankowski.
The former Springbok scored one try and created five-pointers for Toshiki Fujii and JJ Engelbrecht, the latter thanks to a good break and inch-perfect kick. Former Wallaby Mark Gerrard also touched down as did Shinsuke Yoshida, while Sam Greene weighed in with four conversions.
Foreign-born players also had a big say in the other two games.
William Tupou, Timothy Lafaele and Sam Wykes, who have all signed on to play Super Rugby for the Sunwolves this year, touched down for Coca-Cola with Lafaele adding three conversions and two penalty goals, while Andre Taylor grabbed a brace of tries for Kintetsu.