TOKYO – “Tongan Godzilla” Hosea Saumaki scored a hat trick of tries as Japan’s Sunwolves mauled the visiting Reds 63-28 on Saturday to post their first win in 10 attempts this season.
Flyhalf Hayden Parker kicked a perfect 12-from-12, adding a try for good measure in a sparkling display to finish with 36 points for the home side in their final Tokyo fixture of the Super Rugby campaign.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Sunwolves captain Yutaka Nagare after the Tokyo-based team racked up their highest-ever points total and first victory over Australian opposition.
“We kept losing all those games, but have been so lucky to have such tremendous support. We stuck to our game plan and trusted the process – hopefully now we can build on this.”
After losing the first nine matches of their third season, there was little hint of what was to follow as the Sunwolves trailed 14-9 after 20 minutes following an opportunistic Ben Lucas try.
But giant lock Grant Hattingh restored parity before Parker skipped over for his try, book-ended by two more penalties, to send the Sunwolves into the break leading 29-14.
Winger Saumaki – known as the “Tongan Godzilla” – went on the rampage in the second half, crashing over in the corner for the first of his treble soon after the restart as the Reds defence dozed.
He added carbon-copy late tries to cap a six-try burst by the Sunwolves that left some loyal fans sobbing with joy.
The Sunwolves won just one of 15 games in a chastening debut season in 2016 and just two in 2017.
Reds captain James Slipper admitted the visitors had been embarrassed by a Sunwolves side more used to being on the receiving end of such brutal results.
“We could’ve been more clinical, but the Sunwolves played really well and that’s pretty humbling for us,” he said.
“They got up in our face and put us under pressure. We got punished today, but from the first whistle, we really hurt ourselves. You’ve got to turn up and compete hard, and today, we didn’t do that.”