Japan secured the overall Asia Rugby Sevens Series men's and women's titles with victory in the third and final round in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Both wins were built on a watertight defence and came against Hong Kong who had to settle for second place in overall standings in the men's and third in the women's, which qualifies them for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series qualifier on home soil next year. Japan's men won the qualifier earlier this year to earn the right to compete on the world series as a core team.
In a repeat of the last two men's Cup finals, Kosuke Hashino scored twice and captain Kameli Soejima once again stepped up on the big stage as Hong Kong were beaten 19-5. Max Denmark got on the scoresheet for Hong Kong.
“It feels good, this has been a great opportunity for the boys, we got carried away a little but we stuck to our game plan in the end," said Soejima.
“A platform has been set with the world series (qualification) and it’s positive to look at that. But we know we can keep improving and will need to step up again.”
After keeping Malaysia and Korea scoreless in big wins, Japan came through tighter games against the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Soejima and Dai Ozawa scored a brace each to deny the hosts a home final.
Elsewhere the Philippines finished third to take the second spot at the World Rugby Sevens Series qualifier, having defeated hosts Sri Lanka 19-7 in a winner-takes-all encounter.
China won the Plate after beating Malaysia 24-21 despite a hat-trick from Amalul Hazim Nasarrudin.
Sakura Sevens reign supreme
The Sakura Sevens only conceded three tries in winning all five of their matches, including a double against Hong Kong.
Honoka Tsutsumi got Japan off to a flying start in the final before two tries from Yume Hirano helped them to a convincing 31-0 win.
Hong Kong’s women had been targeting a top-three finish all season and they hit their mark in Colombo after beating China 17-7 to reach their first final since 2015.
“Overall, we are very pleased. Our mission throughout the series was to win the play-off games, so to win a semi-final and be in the final here is a good end to what has been a pretty good series for us,” said Hong Kong coach Kevin West.
The results from the series mean that Japan, Kazakhstan and Hong Kong will compete at next year’s World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series qualifier in Hong Kong when a core team place on the 2020 series will be the prize for the winner.
Hosts Sri Lanka finished fifth in the competition for a third successive time by beating Thailand 7-5 to the delight of the home crowd after China finished third with a 17-12 win over Kazakhstan in sudden death extra-time.
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