Japan stole the show once more in the Asia Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, beating China in a thrilling final in Hong Kong.
Having won gold at the recent Asian Games, they trailed China 7-0 but tries from captain Chiharu Nakamura, her sixth of the tournament, and Raichelmiyo Bativakalolo ensured they backed up that gold with another win.
“Thank you for cheering for us,” said Nakamura. “We won this game, but we need a lot more improvement.
“We will come back to Korea with a lot more improvements and brimming with confidence she said, and we will win again.”
Kazakhstan finished third in the competition after they proved too strong for Hong Kong in the third place play-off, winning 14-5.
Earlier, in the first women’s semi final, Japan came from 15-14 behind to beat Kazakhstan 21-15. With time up, Japan held their nerve to book their place in the semi final as Yume Okuroda burst through the defence to beat the spirited Kazakhstan team.
In the second semi final it was the Asian Games silver medalists who came out on top. China beat the hosts x-x to set up a repeat of the Asian Games final.
Gu YaoYao scored the first try in the win, but Hong Kong struck back on the strike of half time through Poon Hoi Yan as the hosts capitalised with China reduced to six.
But China came back fighting to eventually win 19-14 in the second half.
“It was an incredible start to this year’s Asia Rugby men’s and women’s sevens series,” said Asia Rugby and World Rugby council member Ada Milby.
“Off the back of a successful Asian Games it’s great to see the teams being so competitive and developing each other.
“It was a great way to start both competitions and we are all excited to see the continuation of our elite competition in Asia with the next two rounds.
“Having the chance to qualify for the Kitakyushu (women’s), Singapore (men’s) and the Hong Kong qualifier events really adds to the importance of these events and that is showing on the field.”
Attention now turns to Korea on 29-30 September for the second round of the series, before the third and final leg in Sri Lanka on 13-14 October