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The NTT Shining Arcs season came down to the 80th minute of Sunday’s match with Kyushu.
The Arcs went into the match 6-6, and had a shot to finish above .500, something they have never done.
Down 27-21, NTT got the ball to No. 8 and USA captain Todd Clever, who took off 45 meters to rumble over the tryline and score.
Yoshi Kimishima hit the conversion to secure a come-from-behind 28-27 victory.
“I couldn’t get under the posts, but luckily Yoshi slotted the kick – I think I was more nervous [about the kick] than he was!” Clever told RUGBYMag.com. “It’s always a good feeling when you help your team get the victory. It was a team effort and the whole squad was very relieved to get the win. It was the first time NTT has had a winning season in Top League, so the company is happy.”
And Clever, who signed a big contract with NTT Communications in the summer, was a big part of that.
Now NTT looks ahead to a Wild Card playoff with NEC in two weeks. If they win, they stay in the Japan Cup, but even if they lose, they have already recorded their best season, and a lot of that is thanks to Clever’s late-game heroics.
Either way, Clever is expected to be done with his season by early February and will be back in the USA for some time off before getting ready for the Eagles’ summer test match season.
“I have Las Vegas 7s penciled in,” said Clever, who was of course a 7s star before he became the Eagles 15s captain. After that some time off “I will start planning my offseason workouts with my trainer Ryan Gallop; I have some things I want to work on so I can come back bigger, stronger and faster.”
NTT will be happy to hear that.