ReutersJapan’s Sunwolves left their best until last on Saturday, riding a brilliant second-half display in a Tokyo heatwave to crush the three-time champion Auckland Blues 48-21 in the final match of their second Super Rugby season.
Timothy Lafaele scored a hat-trick of tries as the Sunwolves fought back from a 21-5 deficit to earn their first victory over a New Zealand side in sweltering conditions that reached more than 40 C prior to the midday kickoff.
While both sides were out of playoff contention, the Blues had the eighth-best points tally in the competition and were full of confidence, having beaten the British and Irish Lions in their last competitive match last month.
They came out firing as James Parsons, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti and Michael Collins all crossed inside the first 25 minutes.
The home side, which had conceded 142 points in its last two games, responded with some scintillating backline play and superb scrambling defense.
Keisuke Uchida reduced the deficit to 21-12 at halftime before the home side ran riot after the break, capitalizing on Jerome Kaino being sinbinned for a high tackle. The scoring surge helped the crowd become more and more involved, which seemed to give the Sunwolves added confidence.
Lafaele crossed twice more before Yoshitaka Tokunaga burst out of three tackles with less than two minutes remaining to complete the scoring with the Sunwolves’ sixth try — the most in a game in their short existence.Speech