China were denied famous home wins in the finals of both the women's and men's competitions on a weekend of high drama in round two of the three-leg Asia Rugby Sevens Series in Huizhou.
Having already claimed the first silverware of the season on offer in Incheon in Korea, Japan's women took the long route before making it two tournament wins from two, while Hong Kong narrowly came out on top on in the final of the men's event, also against China.
Sakura Sevens at the double
Honoka Tsutsumi scored an incredible extra-time sudden death try to beat China 22-17 and put Japan in a commanding position at the top fo the Asia Rugby Sevens Series standings.
With the hosts leading 17-7 with less than a minute to go in regular time, Chiharu Nakamura and then Raichelmiyo Bativakalolo drew the scores level in dramatic fashion to take the match into overtime.
The last time Japan didn’t win the Cup was in 2015, but China could not prevent that run continuing despite a vastly improved performance from the one that saw them lose 19-5 in the Korea 7s final in round one.
Earlier, Balzhan Koishybayeva scored twice to help Kazakhstan beat a spirited Hong Kong 19-17 to finish third in China.
Kazakhstan had stunned Japan on day one to reach the semi-finals but lost 21-10 to hosts China in the last four. Wanyu Wang, who ended the weekend as the leading try scorer with seven tries, scored two tries for the hosts in the victory to set up a repeat of the final in Korea.
Kazakhstan’s victory over Japan was the Sakura Sevens’ first defeat in the Asia Rugby Sevens Series in two years, but they put that behind them to win another Cup title.
Uthumporn Liamrat scored a hat-trick as Thailand won the Plate with an impressive 36-0 victory over Malaysia. Malaysia’s two victories over the weekend ensured they finished one place higher than they did two week’s ago in Korea.
There were tears of elation as Singapore beat Sri Lanka 15-10 in extra-time sudden death. With the scores locked at 10-10 at full-time, it was Hui Min Chong who powered over to give her side their first win of the 2019 Series, sparking emotional celebrations and demonstrating what these competitions mean to the players.
Hong Kong end long wait
Jack Neville and Alex McQueen scored tries as Hong Kong beat China 14-7 in a thrilling Cup final to win the second round of the Asia Rugby men’s sevens series in Huizhou.
It was a second successive Cup defeat for the home fans as Japan won the women’s final, but Hong Kong were able to celebrate a first Cup title since the 2017 Sri Lanka Sevens.
Paul John’s side now sits on top of the overall standings after China beat Japan in the semi-finals.
Having scored 116 unanswered points in pool play Japan suffered a 14-7 defeat to China in one of the shock results in recent history.
After Michael Toloke had given the Korea Sevens champions the lead, it was Gao Bing and Yi Zhiwen who created a historic moment for China with the result meaning Japan's run of four successive Cup titles would come to an end.
Kensuke Iwabuchi’s side bounced back from the defeat to beat Sri Lanka 40-0 in the third-place play-off.
Hong Kong went unbeaten in Pool B before Raef Morrison scored a first-half hat-trick, with Russ Webb adding two scores, in Hong Kong’s emphatic 55-0 win over the Sri Lanka Tuskers in the semi-finals.
Chinese Taipei came from 19-0 behind to beat the UAE 24-19 thanks to two tries from Po-Wei Huang in the Plate semi-finals before falling short against Korea 17-0 in the Plate final.
Luc Smith scored twice as the Philippines beat the UAE 26-5 to finish seventh, overturning an earlier 21-17 defeat to the same side in pool play.