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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hakuho takes sole lead with finish line in sight

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho took down overnight co-leader Kotooshu on Friday to move into pole position heading into the final weekend of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

News photo
Leading the way: Hakuho walks in front of beaten opponent Kotooshu at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Friday. KYODO PHOTO

Ozeki Kotooshu gave as good as he got during the opening exchanges of an absorbing finale at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, but Hakuho showed superior tactical nous to grab sole possession of the lead at 12-1.

Hakuho kept Kotooshu (11-2) at bay as the Bulgarian tried to lunge for his belt before the yokozuna turned away to send his opponent sprawling to the sandy surface and move a step closer to an 11th Emperor's Cup.

Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu, local favorite Kotomitsuki and fifth-ranked maegashira Aminishiki sit two wins off the pace at 10-3.

Asashoryu oozed class in the day's penultimate bout, toppling compatriot and ozeki Harumafuji (9-4) with an ultra rare "yaguranage" inner thigh throw to move into double digits.

Kotomitsuki's hopes of claiming the championship in front of his home fans suffered a fresh blow as the baby-faced ozeki got mugged at the charge and bundled out from behind by Aminishiki.

In other bouts in the upper echelons of the makuuchi division, Chiyotaikai unleashed a flurry of slaps and thrusts that top-ranked Goeido (4-9) could find no answer to and moved into the winner's column at 7-6.

Kaio (7-6) also got within one victory of a winning record, the veteran ozeki getting a firm grip on Iwakiyama's (4-9) belt before claiming a force-out win over the No. 3 maegashira.

Kisenosato claimed sekiwake bragging rights and secured a majority of wins by shunting out Kakuryu (5-8) while Kotoshogiku prevailed in an all-komusubi affair, digging deep to bring Kyokutenho (5-8) to his knees for a seventh win.

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