The Sunwolves finished their campaign on a high after claiming a shock 48-21 victory over the Blues in Tokyo on Saturday.
This was not the one-sided contest it was expected to be for the Blues and they were shell-shocked after the Sunwolves produced a superb second half performance which paved the way to victory.
The home side were full value for their win after outscoring the Blues eight tries to three with Timothy Lafaele leading the way with a deserved hat-trick.
The Sunwolves left their opponents scoreless during the second period after the visitors led 21-14 at half-time.
The match was a scrappy affair with both sides committing a plethora of unforced errors which resulted in countless turnovers.
The Blues had the better of the early exchanges and after three linebreaks they put together 15 phases before their skipper, James Parsons went over for the opening try in the ninth minute.
Ihaia West converted and five minutes later, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti pounced on a mistake in the home side’s defence before crossing for an easy five-pointer.
Despite holding a 14-0 lead, the men from Auckland continued to make mistakes and the Sunwolves opened their account in the 17th minute when Lafaele crossed the whitewash from close quarters.
The Blues extended their lead in the 26th minute when, against the run of play, Michael Collins intercepted a wayward pass near his own 22 before racing away to score under the posts.
The Sunwolves finished the half stronger though and shortly before the interval, Keisuke Uchida went over for their second try after gathering a pass from Kotaro Matsushima.
The second half came alive in the 54th minute when Ryohei Yamanaka pounced on confusion in the Blues defence after they failed to deal with a teasing kick by Matsushima in their in-goal area.
Yamanaka dived onto the ball behind the Blues’ try-line and the TMO awarded the try although Yu Tamura failed with the conversion attempt which meant the Blues held a slender 21-19 lead.
Three minutes later, the Blues suffered a huge setback when their enforcer, Jerome Ksino, was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Willy Tupou and the Sunwolves made their numerical advantage count as they scored a penalty try and a five-pointer – from Kaito Shigeno – which meant they led 31-21 by the 64th minute.
The next 10 minutes proved crucial as the visitors increased their lead with Lafaele playing a pivotal role. First, he rounded off a flowing move in the 69th minute and five minutes later, he charged down an attempted clearance kick close to the Blues’ trylne before scoring his third try which knocked the wind out of the visitors sails.
And to add insult to injury for the visitors, Yoshitaka Tokunaga crossed for the Sunwolves’ eighth try just before full-time to secure a memorable win – their first ever triumph over New Zealand opposition.
Tries: Lafaele 3, Uchida, Yamanaka, Shigeno, Penalty try, Tokunaga
Cons: Tamura 2, Ogura
Tries: Parsons, Cowley-Tuioti, Collins
Cons: West 3
Yellow Card: Kaino
Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 Willy Tupou, 12 Timothy Lafaele, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Tu Tamura, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willie Britz (c), 7 Shuhei Matsuhashi, 6 Malgene Ilaua, 5 Uwe Helu, 4 Kotaro Yatabe, 3 Koo Jiwon, 2 Takeshi Hino, 1 Koki Yamamoto
Replacements: 16 Yusuke Niwai, 17 Keita Inagaki, 18 Yasuo Yamaji, 19 Yuya Odo, 20 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Jumpei Ogura, 23 Ryohei Yamanaka
Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Jerome Kaino, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 Rene Ranger
Date: Saturday, July 15
Venue: Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Referees: Akihisa Aso, Tasuku Takawahara
TMO: Minoru Fuji