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Friday, Sept. 18, 2009

Hakuho, Asa maintain standard of excellence

Kyodo News

Hakuho put Estonian ozeki slayer Baruto in his place and Asashoryu also showed no signs of letting up as both Mongolian yokozuna nailed commanding fifth wins at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament on Thursday.

Hakuho, Asashoryu, ozeki Kotomitsuki and Kotooshu and rank-and-filers Masatsukasa and Kakuryu share the lead with perfect 5-0 records in the 15-day meet at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Baruto (3-2) came into Thursday's final bout looking to rewrite the script again after scoring his third consecutive ozeki scalp with victory over Kaio the previous day.

But despite a valiant effort, the sekiwake never seriously troubled Hakuho, who bided his time before going for the kill and bumping his towering opponent over the straw bales.

Hakuho won in Nagoya in July with a 14-1 mark and is the favorite to take the tournament hardware and join former yokozuna Futabayama with a 12th Emperor's Cup.

In the final bout, Asashoryu quickly gained advantage after the charge and wrapped up No. 2 maegashira Kyokutenho (1-4) to nonchalantly blast him out of the dohyo.

Kotomitsuki enjoyed another blink-and-you'll-miss-it win, this time with an under-shoulder swing-down technique against winless Shotenro, and Kotooshu kept his slate clean in the following bout, showing nifty footwork to evade Miyabiyama's attack and send the one-time ozeki, who is 0-5 in this tournament, sprawling to the sandy surface.

In other bouts, Kaio dodged a bullet to chase out Tamanoshima and improve to 3-2 in his record-tying 97th tournament in sumo's top makuuchi division. Third-ranked Tamanoshima dropped to 1-4. But Harumafuji (2-3) slumped to a second defeat in a row after getting flattened in a lively encounter with top-ranked Tochinoshin, and Chiyotaikai (2-3) was upset by Aminishiki (1-4)

Tochinoshin huffed and puffed his way past the Mongolian ozeki to grind out a first win of the basho and first-ever victory over an ozeki wrestler.

"I am pleased," said Tochinoshin, who hails from the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

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