Japan League

Former Chiefs midfielder Johnny Fa'auli's colossal hit in Japan League One

The 26-year-old put the 119kg No 8 Lui Naeata, one of the most powerful runners in the league, on his backside when the two collided during a lineout play that sent Naeata up for a midfield crash.

Tongan-born Naeata, a member of the Japanese national squad last year, had been a try-scoring revelation for the Kobelco Steelers in recent seasons before joining the Red Hurricanes this year.

Beauden Barrett's Suntory toppled by coach Robbie Deans' Panasonic in Japan final

Deans’ Panasonic Wild Knights, including Manawatu product and former Wales second five-eighth Hadleigh Parkes, hoisted the Japan Top League trophy with a tense 31-26 win in the final.

Barrett, whose Suntory Sungoliath were dominant in the regular season, never got into gear in the decider and their late surge wasn’t enough at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium.

A masked-up Deans had a typically low-key celebration at the final whistle, in a final played in front of a crowd after much of the season was conducted behind closed doors amid Covid-19.

All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Kieran Read in hunt for Japan Top League rugby title

Deans' Panasonic Wild Knights will meet Toyota Verblitz - where Hansen is director of rugby - in one playoff on Saturday, while Barrett's unbeaten Suntory Sungoliath will oppose ex-All Black Ryan Crotty's Kubota Spears in the Sunday semifinal.

Neither of the former Canterbury and Crusaders coaching cronies will relish losing to the other, such is their pride and rivalry.

Hansen and Deans were first on opposite sides in schools rugby in Christchurch in the 1970s.

Aussies impress in Japan's Top League

The Robbie Deans-coached Wild Knights pushed on from a 10-7 halftime advantage to win 26-13 in Osaka on Sunday.

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Forward Cornelsen's tireless work rate helped to stem the tide of the Red Hurricanes' early dominance of possession and territory, while Riley's power in the midfield helped to create the opportunity for Panasonic's three tries.