Sunwolves lose but pack stay upbeat

A week after the Sunwolves shocked the Waikato Chiefs with a 30-15 victory in Hamilton, the Japanese side fell to another New Zealand side, the Auckland Blues, in a 28-20 away loss yesterday.

The Blues came from 6-0 down to lead the Sunwolves 15-13 at half-time with two tries from Rieko Ioane and a penalty and conversion from Harry Plummer.

Rikiya Matsuda scored all the Sunwolves' points with two converted tries and two penalties.

Ioane scored twice more in the second half with Otere Black adding a penalty, while Uwe Helu scored a second try for the Sunwolves.

Despite the reverse, Sunwolves team manager James Kumate believes the team are making progress this season.

Before beating the Chiefs, the Sunwolves suffered a narrow 31-30 loss to the Waratahs last month.

Kumate said: "Super Rugby is one of the world's toughest competitions, so nothing can be taken for granted. Each week is a new and unique challenge.

"The win (against the Chiefs) was validating around our direction but we need to continue driving our development."

That development is partly aided by their adoption of a new slogan - We are the pack - this season.

He said: "Success in Super Rugby is a massive collective effort between a range of stakeholders. Everyone involved is part of our pack and should feel that they contributed to any success we enjoy.

"The collaborative nature of our team is definitely captured here. We all need each other to keep improving and succeed. No one person has the answers but together we can find a solution."

The Sunwolves will host the Reds at the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Tokyo next Saturday, before playing another home game against the Lions at the National Stadium here on March 23.

Asked if he was confident of getting a good result at the Sports Hub, Kumate said: "We are always confident in our plan and preparation."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 10, 2019, with the headline 'Sunwolves lose but pack stay upbeat'. Print Edition | Subscribe