All Blacks Ardie Savea and Brodie Retallick star in HUGE first win in Japan

Jared Wright
All Blacks forward Ardie Savea thanks the fans after the Rugby World Cup final.

All Blacks forward Ardie Savea thanks the fans after the Rugby World Cup final.

All Blacks forwards Ardie Savea and Brodie Retallick both scored two tries in the Kobe Steelers’ first game of the 2023/24 Japan Rugby League One season.

Kobe hammered newly promoted Mie Heat 80-15 in their opening game of the new campaign, with World Rugby Player of the Year Savea marking his tournament debut with two tries in the second half.

Savea and Retallick doubles

The Steelers got off to a perfect start as Retallick dotted down from short range just four minutes into the game, marking the first try of the season.

Honda got on the scoreboard through Mitchell Hunt’s boot three minutes later, but Kobe extended their lead soon after with former All Blacks centre Ngani Laumape and Tiennan Costley giving Dave Rennie’s charges a 19-3 lead after just 13 minutes.

Like in the first half, Retallick got Kobe off the mark in the second half as he powered over the line after receiving an offload from Savea.

Seungsin Lee grabbed another for Kobe before Savea scored a quick-fire brace, scoring from a well-worked wrap-around from close range in the 55th minute. Just three minutes later he got his second when Honda failed to deal with Kenta Tokuda’s box kick. Savea beat Gawngtee Oh in the air and shrugged the fly-half off before diving over the line.

Replacement hooker Takuya Kitade scored a hattrick off the bench, and while Viliami Vuli did score a consolation try for the visitors, it was not enough as the Steelers lay down an earlier marker.

Retallick, who captained the side, was named man of the match for his showing in what was also Rennie’s first competitive game in charge of the team.

“A lot of hard work has gone on with the boys in pre-season, so it was great to see it paying off today,” Retallick said.

“There are some things we need to tidy up, but I think we can be happy with the way we started and continued to play for the whole 80 minutes.”

Elsewhere, Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett made their debuts for Toyota Verblitz as Steve Hansen’s charges claimed a 15-8 victory over the Black Rams Tokyo despite Springboks flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit’s yellow card.

Richie Mo’unga and Shannon Frizell made their debuts for Brave Lupus as they secured a 43-30 win over Shizuoka BlueRevs.

Saturday’s other the game saw Sagamihara Dynaboars defeat Hanazono Liners 30-29 thanks to a clutch penalty from ex-Northampton Saints pivot James Grayson.

Sunday’s games see Kubota Spears and Suntory Sungoliath face off while the Wild Knights take on on the Canon Eagles.

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