Japan beat a battling Hong Kong 16-0 0n Saturday to win the 2017 Asia Rugby Championship.
The victory – together with an earlier win over the same opponents in Tokyo and home-and-away victories over South Korea – see the Brave Blossoms finish their campaign with 19 points from a possible 20.
Japan have now been crowned champions of Asia on 25 out of a possible 30 times and this was their 10th straight title since the tournament became an annual event.
Hong Kong and South Korea will now battle it out to decide who finishes second.
“It’s been a tough tournament, a lot tougher than last year,” said Japan head coach Jamie Joseph. “The Hong Kong team has improved so much and they really tested us last week as well as this week so we are really proud of the win today.”
On a wet day at the Hong Kong Football Club, Amanaki Lotoahea scored the only try of the game early in the second half.
Takuya Yamasawa added three penalties and a conversion as the physicality of the home pack once again caused problems for the visitors, who failed to get a bonus point for scoring four or more tries for the first time in a completed game since the format changed in 2008.
The corresponding fixture between the sides in 2015 was declared a draw after it was abandoned after 20 minutes due to heavy rain.
“We are very happy with the results of both matches against Japan,” said Dai Rees, Chief Rugby Operations Officer with the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union.
“We were able to put them under pressure, and that’s something that we haven’t been able to do in the past. Now it’s important for us to follow up these two matches with wins against Korea in both Seoul two weeks from today and then back here again in June.”
Story By: Rich Freeman @FreemanrugbyJPN
Photos Curtesy: Hong Kong RFU