Fine day of sumo, marked by fairly quick bouts. There were no real endurance contests, but plenty of fine sumo action to enjoy. We had three rikishi pick up their kachi-koshi today, Ichinojo, Kiribayama and Wakamotoharu. All three of them have been fighting well this March, and have three matches left to run up the score.
The scheduler’s plan of having the two leaders fight the two hunters paid off well, with both Wakatakakage and Takayasu winning their matches, more or less mathematically eliminating any competition for either of them winning the cup. As they have already faced each other, they must now focus on winning the more of their final three matches than the other man. Should their scores match at the end of day 15, they will fight again after the final match to decide the cup.
Azumaryu defeats Akua – Akua tries to change his luck with his other mawashi, but his balance is still off. He lets Azumaryu stand him up, dislodge one hand, and then bring him forward and down. Azumaryu returns to Juryo with a win at 9-3.
Chiyonokuni defeats Kotoeko – Well, that was decisive. Partially mummified Chiyonokuni returns from kyujo to blast Kotoeko back and out in three quick steps. Chiyonokuni improves to 5-7.
Kagayaki defeats Chiyotairyu – Chiyotairyu uses the cannonball tachiai today, with great effect. By the third step, Kagayaki gets out of Chiyotairyu’s way and lets him fall. Kagayaki picks up a much needed win, both finish the day at 5-7.
Kotokuzan defeats Myogiryu – Kotokuzan’s second (or third?) pull attempt finally connects, sending Myogiryu to all fours on the dohyo. Kotokuzan, at 6-6, maintains pace with the Darwin group.
Yutakayama defeats Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi starts the match super low yet again, and has a hold of one of Yutakayama’s legs. As Terutsuyoshi is rushing forward, Yutakayama executes the most unlikely escape manuver, breaking Terutsuyoshi’s hold while his lower body leaps to the side. The gymnastics send Yutakayama to 7-5, Terutsuyoshi maintains pace with the Darwin group at 6-6.
Kotoshoho defeats Shimanoumi – Shimanoumi’s opening nodowa is only temporarily effective, and Kotoshoho gets a right hand inside grip. Shimanoumi breaks the grip, but loses his defensive position. Four steps later, he’s on the clay as Kotoshoho throws him down, advancing to 7-5.
Aoiyama defeats Chiyomaru – Aoiyama gets a left hand outside grip, and shuts down Chiyomaru’s thrusting attack by pulling Chiyomaru to his chest. In spite of Chiyomaru’s impressive circumference, Aoiyama lifts and walks forward, finishing with a shove to the chest. Aoiyama at 6-6 in Darwin territory, Chiyomaru make-koshi at 4-8.
Tobizaru defeats Tochinoshin – Nice combo from Tobizaru to break contact with Tochinoshin and stand him up. Before Tochinoshin could re-engage, Tobizaru pulled him down. Just a spot of poor timing and off balance for Tochinoshin today, but Tobizaru really needed that win, now 6-6.
Chiyoshoma defeats Nishikigi – Chiyoshoma’s flying henka works a treat against a man with naturally poor vision. As he is airborne, Chiyoshoma lands a right hand grip and uses the remaining rotational energy to swing Nishikigi to the clay and off of the dohyo. Chiyoshoma improves to 5-7.
Ichiyamamoto defeats Okinoumi – Ichiyamamoto attacked high, standing Okinoumi up, then pulled him forward and down. Okinoumi picks up his 9th loss while Ichiyamamoto advances to 5-7.
Kiribayama defeats Hokutofuji – Hokutofuji’s focus on establishing an opening nodowa once again cost him the match. He left his body wide open, giving Kiribayama a morozashi / double inside grip. With both hands around Hokutofuji’s body, Kiribayama had control of the match. It was a few quick steps to the win for Kiribayama, finishing the match with 8 wins and kachi-koshi for March.
Wakamotoharu defeats Endo – Impressive sumo again today from Wakamotoharu, Endo used a couple of really nice combos, but could not make them work against Wakamotoharu’s superior balance and excellent defensive foot placement. Sensing that his attack plan was not going to work, Endo attempted to break contact, and it was quite impressive to see Wakamotoharu remain firmly attached to Endo’s mawashi. With Wakamotoharu now in control of the match, he made fast work of what was left, taking his 8th win and kachi-koshi against the best Endo could offer today. This guy is going places, if he can stay healthy.
Takarafuji defeats Meisei – The good news: Takarafuji picked up his 4th win to improve to 4-8. The bad news: Meisei is a dreadful 1-11, and its really quite clear he can’t hold ground against even a moderately strong advance.
Tamawashi defeats Daieisho – Daieisho accidentally presents Tamawashi with his wide open chest, and Tamawashi cannot pass up the chance. From close range he grips Daieisho’s neck and shoves with that power he can bring to his sumo. Daieisho is out two steps later, and Tamawashi advances to 6-6.
Ura defeats Sadanoumi – Ura finally gets his second win of the basho, in a very straight forward hit and move forward match. Sadanoumi mad matters worse by immediately trying to pull, and thereby giving Ura no resistance to his forward pressure. Ura now 2-10.
Takanosho defeats Ishiura – Not sure what Ishiura is doing, but its clear he is not ready to compete, and should not have come back from kyujo. That looked like wanpaku sumo to me, Takanosho now 3-9.
Hoshoryu defeats Onosho – Hoshoryu tried pull after pull against Onosho’s power thrusting sumo. He eventually found Onosho’s chest and gave him maximum force, shoving him down to the dohyo. Hoshoryu now 6-6.
Wakatakakage defeats Kotonowaka – The first of our leader-hunter match set, Wakatakakage started impressively low, and managed to attack from below straight from the tachiai. Kotonowaka was never able to really get offensive advantage with Wakatakakage underneath, and with good foot position. Kotonowaka struggled a bit, but Wakatakakage stayed strong, stayed low and took Kotonowaka out of the ring. Wakatakakage 11-1 to retain a position in the lead.
Ichinojo defeats Abi – That’s 4 straight losses for Abi. I have to wonder if he hurt something against Daieisho? Abi starts well with the double arm thrust, but Ichinojo is now confident he can stand his ground against this guy, and holds fast, looking for his chance. It comes and he tosses Abi to the side for his 8th win, and kachi-koshi for Haru.
Shodai defeats Takakeisho – Well, that was odd. We had Shodai connect and take Takakeisho to his chest, but almost at once, Takakeisho seems to have calculated that he had little to gain by dialing up the forward pressure in response. He seemed to only put up token resistance while Shodai walked forward and escorted him across the tawara. Shodai now 7-5, needing only 1 more win in the next 3 matches to clear kadoban. Six wins in a row.
Takayasu defeats Mitakeumi – The second of our leader-hunter match set, Takayasu gets a strong left hand outside grip by the second step, and begins his offensive plan. Parking Mitakeumi in the center of the dohyo, he works to consolidate his grip, latches on and walks forward. Mitakeumi is bracketed, and can’t do much to stop, and Takayasu picks up win number 11.