A penalty from Ryohei Yoshida a minute from time saw Toshiba beat Kintetsu Liners 22-19, as the Brave Lupus wrapped up third spot in Pool B. A defeat for the five-time champions would have seen Kubota Spears finish in the top four, but Yoshida held his nerve to ensure Toshiba start the second stage with two bonus points.
Kintetsu, meanwhile, ended the first stage in sixth spot and will start the second stanza with three bonus points to their name as they battle it out to avoid relegation from the bottom group.
Jaque Fourie celebrated signing a new two-year deal with the Steelers by touching down twice as Kobe beat NTT Communications Shining Arcs 33-11 in a winner takes all clash. Fourie’s brace sees him finish the first half of the season as the top scorer with eight, and ensures Kobe, for whom Josh Blackie also scored a try, finish third in Pool A.
NTT Comms will take four bonus points with them when they start the second stage in the bottom group by virtue of finishing fifth after seven games.
In the day’s other game, Toyota Shokki Shuttles downed Kyuden Voltex 54 -19. Rikiya Asami grabbed a hat-trick of tries for the Shuttles, who finished sixth in Pool A. The defeat means Kyuden, who finished eighth, are the only side to go through the first stage without picking up a single point.
The league now takes a break while Japan take on the All Blacks and play four games in Europe, and competition resumes on the weekend of Nov. 30 to Dec. 1.
Masakatsu Hikosaka touched down five times for Toyota Verblitz as they hammered the previously unbeaten Kobe Kobelco Steelers 43-10 in Pool A, while Yamaha Jubilo came from behind to beat Toshiba Brave Lupus 33-17 to hand Kenichi Wada’s team their first loss in Pool B.
Toyota’s win, their third of the season, sees them go fourth in Pool A with 14 points, five behind Kobe, who drop to third.
Suntory Sungoliath lead the pool with 21 points after they downed Toyota Shokki Shuttles 24-17, thanks to tries by Naoki Chono, Shuetsu Narita and Kosei Ono and three conversions and a penalty from Ryan Nicholas.
NEC Green Rockets are second on 20 points, with NTT Communications Shining Arcs fifth on 14, a poorer points difference meaning they trail Toyota in the standings with two games remaining in the first half of the new two-pool, two-stage season.
Yamaha took over top spot in Pool B thanks to an impressive second-half performance that saw them score four converted tries.
Ayumu Goromaru led the way with a try and four conversions as Yamaha made it four wins and a draw for the season, making them the only unbeaten team in the league. Toshiba drop to third place on 18 points, level with Panasonic Wild Knights, who have a better points differential.
Meanwhile, Kubota Spears moved up to fifth spot in the pool with a 37-24 win over Canon Eagles. Toutai Kefu’s side have 11 points, one point behind fourth-placed Kintetsu Liners and one ahead of the Eagles.
The new format of the league sees the 16 teams divided into two groups of eight. After seven games the top four teams from each pool advance to battle it out for the silverware, while the bottom four sides from each pool fight it out to avoid relegation.
The league takes a break next weekend with games resuming on the weekend of Oct. 19-20.