Former All Blacks and Hurricanes hooker Dane Coles scored a double to power the Kubota Spears Funabashi Tokyo Bay to a 38-34 win over the Kobelco Kobe Steelers in round five of the Japan Rugby League One.
The 37-year-old rake opened the scoring from a rolling maul in just the third minute to give the Spears a 7-0 lead to continue his try scoring run.
After a penalty extended the lead to 10-0, it was recently crowned World Player of the Year Ardie Savea who hit back for the Steelers, crashing over from a lineout play that saw the flanker round the corner and charge through the 10 channel.
The Spears took a 17-7 lead into half-time but the Steelers quickly hit back after Bryn Gatland’s deflected cutout pass found winger Junta Hamano for a try in the corner.
A brilliant counter-attacking run by fullback Kanta Matsunaga gave the Steelers the lead. Penalty goals from both sides led to three lead changes before Coles’ second gave the Spears a handy 30-22 advantage.
On a pick and go Coles barged through expat Kiwi No 8 Tiennan Costley to score from five metres out.
A try to Costley and a barnstorming try to Amanaki Saumaki gave the Steelers a 34-33 lead with three minutes to go before a game-winning try to South Africa centre Rikus Pretorius.
Pretorius burst through the Steelers defence in the midfield and used his pace to burn past the fullback to score from 40 metres out for the win. L
In other Japan Rugby League One action, an injury to Aaron Smith in the first quarter didn’t stop Toyota Verblitz from blowing away Will Genia and Quade Cooper’s Hanazono Kintetsu Liners by 47-14.
Richie Mo’unga’s Toshiba Brave Lupus put up a 40-12 win over the Mie Honda Heat with All Blacks Mo’unga and Seta Tamanivalu crossing for tries.