Damian de Allende's late try propels Wild Knights into Japan League One final

Damian de Allende's late try propels Wild Knights into Japan League One final

A late try from Springbok star Damian de Allende sent Saitama Wild Knights into the Japan Rugby League One final with a 20-17 win over Yokohama Canon Eagles on Saturday.

The Wild Knights had gone the regular season undefeated and started the game in the same vein, running in two early tries from wing Koki Takayama and lock Jack Cornelsen for a 10-3 lead.

But the Eagles dominated for much of the middle 40 minutes, finally reaping the rewards with an early second-half try by Sione Halasili, before hitting the front on 54 minutes with a try from wing Masayoshi Takezawa.

Te departure of Japan international Halasili shortly after he scored was a turning point, however, with the breakdown thereafter dominated by the Wild Knights.

De Allende's winner on the hour mark owed much to Japan international flyhalf Rikiya Matsuda, who broke up the centre of the park to gain the field position from which the two-time Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok scored. 

From the same movement, Eagles prop Tahoto Okabe was sin-binned for killing the ball in the build-up and there was no more comeback momentum from the Eagles.

The win continued the unbelievable record of Wild Knights coach Robbie Deans, who has now won 16 of the 18 professional club semi-finals that he has prepared teams for, nine of which have been during his time in Japan. 

The Wild Knights will play Toshiba Brave Lupus in the final after they overcame Suntory Sungoliath 28-20 in Sunday's second semi-final in Tokyo. 

A second-half try from All Blacks star Shannon Frizell proved to be a pivotal score for Brave Lupus, as they consigned Sungoliath to a semi-final defeat for the second year in a row.

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