Dan Carter kicks Kobe into Japanese rugby grand final

Dan Carter (c) is in the Japan Top League grand final in his first season with the Kobelco Steelers.
Koki NagahamaDan Carter (c) is in the Japan Top League grand final in his first season with the Kobelco Steelers.

The former All Blacks great scored 21 points as the Kobe Steelers beat Jake White’s Toyota Verblitz in a semifinal on Saturday.

Carter crossed for a try and kicked four penalties and two conversions to steer the Steelers to their first playoff final.

The Kyodo News reported Carter also set up a try for Kiwi compatriot Fraser Anderson with a deft stab kick off the outside of his boot.

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Dan Carter and Matt Giteau - pictured in a 2008 Bledisloe Cup test - will clash again 10 years later in the 2018 Japan Top League final.
NZPADan Carter and Matt Giteau – pictured in a 2008 Bledisloe Cup test – will clash again 10 years later in the 2018 Japan Top League final.

Kobe – who have former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith as director of rugby – won the inaugural 2003-04 Top League title when the competition was decided on a round robin basis.

Highlanders utility Richard Buckman started at fullback for Kobe, who will meet Giteau’s Suntory Sungoliath in next Saturday’s grand final.

Suntory needed a Giteau penalty to beat Yamaha Jubilo 28-25  in a golden point extra-time cliffhanger.

The former Wallaby landed a 42m goal in the fifth minute of extra-time after earlier helping create two tries for hat-trick hero Seiya Ozaki.

Giteau kicked 13 points to give defending champions Suntory a shot at a sixth title.

“We only got told it would be golden point when we were in the huddle [before extra time started],” Suntory’s former Highlanders lock Joe Wheeler told Kyodo News.

The Suntory side backed Giteau to get the job done.

“I knew he’d kick it,” Suntory’s Auckland-born Japanese test flanker  Hendrik Tui told Kyodo News. “He’s always staying on and kicking at training.”

Carter and Giteau – both 36 – have been rivals since 2003 when Carter made his All Blacks debut, 12 months after Giteau’s Wallabies bow.

Both are winding their careers in Japan after stints in France – Carter with Racing 92 and Giteau at Toulon.

Carter is in his first season with Kobe. 

Giteau joined Suntory last season and helped them win the 2017 Japan title.

 

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