Japan
Robbie Deans claims third straight Japanese Top League title
ESPN staff
January 24, 2016
© Steve Bardens/Getty Images

Former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has made it three straight Japanese Top League titles after his Panasonic Wild Knights defeated Toshiba Brave Lupus in a gripping decider on Sunday.

But Panasonic were forced to endure a post-siren conversion attempt from Toshiba full-back Francois Steyn, the Springboks back sending the match-winning kick wide at the Prince Chichibunomiya Stadium in Tokyo.

A Wild Knights team that included Aussies Ben McCalman and Berrick Barnes on its bench had earlier built a 27-14 lead through tries to Tadasuke Nishihara, Shota Horie and South African JP Pietersen while Toshiba's five-pointers had come through Japan captain Michael Leitch and Hiroshi Yamamoto.

A try from Nicole Kraska kept Toshiba in the contest but it appeared as though they would run out of time until a hopeful Richard Kahui kick fell into the path of Shohei Toyoshima, who touched down 90 seconds after the final hooter.

But Steyn's kick was to the right of the posts, giving Wild Knights a third straight Japanese crown under Deans.

"What can you say? What a great conclusion to a great season of rugby in Japan," Deans said.

"That had everything that makes the game what it is. A good contest up front. A tough contest at the breakdown and both teams risking their hand.

"Obviously the emotion would be very different if the kick had been successful at the death, but looking at the weight of the season and the weight of the encounter we probably warranted the outcome."

© ESPN staff

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