Hong Kong's men and Japan's women were both dominant as they claimed victory in their respective events in the opening round of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series in Hong Kong.
As a result, Hong Kong have taken a big step towards gaining a spot at next year's all-important HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series qualifying tournament, which they will host, as one of the top two ranked sides from the Asian region.
Hong Kong booked their place in the last four of the men’s Cup competition in emphatic fashion after scoring 105 points without conceding any in reply in pool wins over Malaysia, Chinese Taipei and Sri Lanka.
A 28-14 win over Korea on day two saw Gareth Baber’s side reach the Cup final where Sri Lanka, who’d edged out China in the other semi-final, provided much stiffer opposition second time around.
Hong Kong trailed twice in a see-saw final before pulling through to win 22-17 thanks to tries from James Cunningham, Chris Maize and Lee Jones and a penalty and two conversions from player of the tournament Ben Rimene.
Korea took third place after a 33-14 victory over China, while an inexperienced Japan outfit had to settle for fifth in their first tournament since their headline-making antics at the Olympic Games. Opening day defeats to Korea and China ruined their Cup hopes, but wins over Chinese Taipei and Singapore saw the student-based side claim the Plate.
SAKURA SEVENS SEE OFF CHINA
Japan's women fared better in their opening tournament, lifting the trophy after a 14-7 Cup final win over China.
Like Hong Kong’s men, the Sakura Sevens breezed through the pool stages after posting over a century of points with no reply. But they too had to come from behind to begin their campaign on a winning note.
Singapore, Guam and Hong Kong were all brushed aside on Friday before Japan booked their place in the final the next day with a 43-0 win over Thailand. China defeated Hong Kong 19-7 in the second semi-final.
In a scintillating final, the Japanese women were given a real scare by China, but tries from player of the tournament Chiharu Nakamura and the equally outstanding Mayu Shimizu eventually saw the Sakura Sevens home.
A resounding 36-7 victory over Thailand ensured hosts Hong Kong took third place to finish the tournament on a high.
The Asia Rugby Sevens Series moves on to Korea on 24-25 September, before concluding in Sri Lanka on 15-16 October.
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