Gregan bows out on top
February 27, 2011
Gregan's Suntory Sungoliath beat Sanyo Wild Knights in the Japanese national championship final in Tokyo © Getty Images
Australian rugby legend George Gregan brought the curtain down on a glittering playing career by helping Suntory Sungoliath to a 37-20 victory over Sanyo Wild Knights in the All-Japan Championship final at the Chichibunomiya Stadium in Tokyo.
Two tries from Yasunori Nagatomo and further scores from Hirotoki Onozawa, Tusi Pisiata and Yusuke Aoki saw Suntory avenge last month's defeat to Sanyo in the Top League play-off final and capture their first national title in nine years.
Gregan appeared off the bench as a second-half replacement for Atsushi Hiwasa and maintained his record of having won some silverware for every team he has played for. Gregan can now add the All-Japan crown to the World Cup and Tri-Nations titles won with Australia, the Super 12 winners' medals he achieved with the Brumbies, and the French second division title he claimed with Toulon.
"That was a great way to finish my playing career not just as a professional but with Suntory," the 37-year-old Gregan said after the game.
Suntory coach Eddie Jones was full of praise for the veteran No.9, adding, "He is a great player and I am lucky to have coached him."
Tries by Ryu Koliniasi Holani and Sam Norton-Knight had seen Sanyo close to within nine points at 29-20 - having trailed 24-4 at the break. But Suntory's defence held firm over the final 20 minutes as the Sungoliath secured its fourth All-Japan title, and first since 2002.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action