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Asian qualifying battle down to two

Kazakhstan and Japan will battle it out on Friday for the last spot at the Womens Rugby World Cup in London in 2010.

To get to the Asian Qualifiers final, Kazakhstan today defeated Hong Kong 58-14 while Japan overcame Singapore 35-11 and the winner takes all finale will be held in Singapore this Friday.

Kazakhstan will be favourites to return to the World Cup they have been at all four, though Japan will be desperate to reappear having failed to qualify in 2006.

Both teams will be hoping to join defending champions New Zealand, hosts and 2006 runners up England, bronze medallists France, Canada, USA, South Africa, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden and Australia at Women's Rugby World Cup from August 20 to September 5 next year.

Japan win comfortably

Japan, the second seeds, first eased past Singapore 35-11 at the Republic Polytechnic.

Japan came racing out of the blocks and into a 10-0 advantage in as many minutes after from wing Fumiko Naotsuka and fly half Ayaka Suzuki.

Singapore doubled their efforts to try and close the gap, their reward coming in the 25th minute when fly half Eunice Tay Gek Sie kicked a penalty, only for lock and New South Wales player Haruka Takahashi to score Japan's third try to make it 15-3 at half time.

The hosts again came out fighting again with captain Wang Shao-Feng kicking a penalty within minutes of the restart. However, once again Japan crossed the try-line again with a second for Naotsuka.

Priscilla Humphries cut the deficit to 20-11 with a 65th minute try, but Japan's greater experience told and Suzuki and Naotsuka touching down again, the latter to complete her hat-trick.

Kazakhtan ease their way

After this entertaining opener, it was time for Kazakhstan and fourth seeds Hong Kong to take centre stage with the top seeds hoping to qualify for the Women's Rugby World Cup for the chance to better their 11th place finish in 2006.

Living up to their billing as favourites, Kazakhstan raced into a 14-0 lead inside six minutes with wings Natalya Yessembekova and Lyudmila Sherer touching down. This was the first of four tries for Sherer, the other three coming in the second half.

Picking themselves up, Hong Kong marched methodically back up the field and their efforts paid off when fly half Fiona Foxon plunged over from quickly recycled ruck ball five metres out from the Kazakh line.

The conversion went astray and Kazakhstan re-established their advantage when flanker Irina Radzivil touched down. Hong Kong full back Man Po Kei kicked a penalty, but Kazakhstan went in leading 24-8 at half time after fly half Tatyana Tur scored her side's fourth try.

Kazakhstan raced away in the second half with four further tries - three of them by Sherer - to set up the winner takes all showdown with Japan on Friday at The Padang. Hong Kong and Singapore will meet in the third placed play-off on the same day.

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PHOTO CREDIT: DavidAsh/SingaporeMaven