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Friday, March 14, 2003

Chiyotaikai retains share of lead in Spring Basho

OSAKA (Kyodo) Yokozuna Asashoryu still looked shaky but got the job done with a fanciful leg trip against Tochinonada to stay one win off the pace at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.

The Mongolian grand champion debutant was a far cry from his usual truculent self as the final bout got under way on the fifth day of action at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

Asashoryu has struggled with his confidence, moving tentatively about the raised-ring, since an embarrassing defeat to compatriot Kyokutenho on the third day of the 15-day meet.

The 22-year-old from Ulan Bator immediately got locked at the ring's center and had a heated tussle with the No. 2 maegashira before he was able to nozzle up for an outside leg trip that moved him to 4-1.

Meanwhile, Chiyotaikai was never tricked by a sidestepping Takanonami (2-3) in the penultimate bout and maintained his three-way tie with journeymen Kotoryu and Jumonji at 5-0.

The ozeki further eased his relegation worries, quickly ramming Takanonami over the bales before any kind of counterattack could be mustered by the top-dog maegashira.

Musoyama redeemed some much-needed respect for a beleaguered ozeki camp notching his first win of the meet against Shimotori. The ozeki, however, still appeared unsure of himself as he bellied out the third-ranked grappler to move to 1-4.

In the day's upset, a late charge at the faceoff cost Kaio his bout against the bulldozing Dejima. The komusubi swiftly pounded the ozeki over the edge to his second loss.

The "kadoban" ozeki needs eight wins to keep his ranking after missing the past two meets with an arm injury.

Wakanosato (3-2), who has returned to the rank of sekiwake after an impressive 11-4 mark in January, made a weak attempt at defense against Wakanoyama (2-3), backpedaling out for his first ever loss to the fourth-ranked grappler.

Fellow sekiwake Kotomitsuki (2-3) faired no better, tumbling face forward onto the clay as he was yanked down by komusubi Tosanoumi (3-2).

Takamisakari did his best to excite himself and the crowd but again was more bark than bite. The No. 2 maegashira was promptly flung headlong to his fourth loss by sixth-ranked Iwakiyama (3-2).



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