Japan impressed on day one of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series qualifier in Hong Kong on Thursday, as the battle for a place on next year’s series intensified in So Kon Po.
Friday’s quarter finals will see unbeaten Japan play China, South Africa take on Papua New Guinea, Belgium play neighbours the Netherlands while Italy face Kenya.
The semi-finals and final will be played at the Hong Kong Stadium in front of huge crowds, with the eventual winner becoming a core side on next year’s HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, which is currently contested over six events across the globe.
The day started with a shock 15-5 win for Italy over the highly-favoured South Africans while China, another side with series experience, opened their account with a 21-19 loss to the Netherlands.
With crowds gathering in the shadow of the iconic Hong Kong Stadium, the hosts were cheered onto the field by local supporters as they took on Kenya in Pool B. However Hong Kong lost a winning position to a late surge from Kenya, going down 24-21, with Kenya’s Sinaida Omondi scoring a hat-trick of tries to seal the win.
There were wins also for Papua New Guinea over Colombia, Belgium over Argentina and Japan ran 54 points past Jamaica in the early matches.
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Speaking after her side finished the day with a win over a strong Belgian side, Hong Kong coach and World Rugby Hall of Famer, Anna Richards, said: “I’m really proud of the girls, it’s been a hard day. We’ve had some big ups and downs, especially how we lost that first game against Kenya.
“It’s great to play in an official World Rugby tournament, however. It’s pressure but you can only get better from this. We’re enjoying the vibe – it’s a great place to play here and we’re so close to the stadium and tomorrow is going to be even better.”
The action from day two in So Kon Po will stream live on worldrugby.org and World Rugby’s Facebook page when the matches resume at 09.22 (GMT +7).