Savea scores four tries in big Japanese club rugby win

Sun, Mar 3, 2024, 11:03 PM
by AAP
Ardie Savea was dominant with a four-try display in Japan. Photo: Getty Images
Ardie Savea was dominant with a four-try display in Japan. Photo: Getty Images

World Rugby Player of the Year Ardie Savea has scored four tries as Dave Rennie's Kobelco Kobe Steelers blitzed Steve Hansen's Toyota Verblitz 57-22 to move into the top four in Japan Rugby League One.

While the former Wallaby coach never faced off against ex-All Blacks mentor Hansen in the Test arena, Sunday's crushing victory ensured the bragging rights for his team, which included the All Blacks trio of Savea, Ngane Laumape and Brodie Retallick.

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Loose forward Savea, who is enjoying a season-long sabbatical at Kobe and will be available to New Zealand later in the year, scored two tries in each half, while flyhalf Bryn Gatland also scored two tries in an all-round performance that netted 27 points.

Hansen's Verblitz, who featured All Blacks halves Beauden Barrett and Aaron Smith, trailed by three at halftime but were blown away after the break as they sank to their fourth defeat of the season.

Defending champions Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay, who are without injured Wallaby flyhalf Bernard Foley, fell out of the top four in Sunday's other match, beaten 34-28 by Curtis Rona's Sagamihara Dynaboars.

On Saturday, fellow veteran Wallaby playmaker Quade Cooper scored a try but couldn't prevent Hanazono Kintetsu Liners from suffering their eighth defeat of the season, losing 50-32 to the unbeaten Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo.

In charge at Brave Lupus, the former Crusaders boss Todd Blackadder now faces one of his mentors, as his side meets the Robbie Deans-coached Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights in a top-of-the-table clash next weekend.

Wild Knights easily beat Shizuoka Blue Revs 45-19, with Springbok second row Lood de Jager scoring two tries.

Saturday's other match saw Eddie Jones's former club Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath rout a hapless Ricoh Black Rams Tokyo 62-0, while ex-Waratahs second rower Max Douglas scored twice as Yokohama Canon Eagles beat Mie Honda Heat 50-21 on Friday night.

Wallaby Tom Banks' Heat are still winless as the season reaches its halfway point.

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