Japan and China have qualified as Asia’s two representatives for the Sevens World Cup.
Japan and China were deservedly Asia’s World Cup qualifiers after the Asian Championship, held in Dubai this weekend.
Japan were tournament winners for the 15th time, beating China in the final for the 11th time in their 13 finals. This was, however, the closest ever final with Michayo Suda’s faultless boot being the difference between the two sides, Japan winning by 14-12.
Both teams finished top if Friday’s pools comfortably, winning all of their games by at least two cleat tries. Japan’s group – containing both Kazakhstan and Thailand - was slightly the tougher, while China’s only significant threat was from Hong Kong, who they beat 22-5.
Hong Kong also qualified for the semi-finals comfortably, but Kazakhstan and Thailand fought a titanic battle for the fourth spot in the last four, Kazakhstan slipping though on point difference after a 5-5 draw in the final Pool A game.
On Saturday the tournament went straight into the semi-finals with World Cup places available to the winners. Japan saw off Hong Kong comfortably, but Kazakhstan pushed China all the way before going down 24-19, Wanyu Wang being China’s hero with a brace of tries.
Hong Kong edged third place, beating Kazakhstan – perhaps still feeling their narrow semi-final defeat – by 12-10.
Top scorer – and perhaps player of the tournament – was China’s Kei Wang, with seven tries and eight conversions she was comfortably the top scorer with 51 points from her five games.
Pool A: Japan 21-7 Kazakhstan; Thailand 35-5 Philippines; Japan 17-5 Thailand; Kazakhstan 48-0 Philippines; Japan 61-0 Philippines; Kazakhstan 5-5 Thailand
Pool B: China 22-5 Hong Kong; Sri Lanka 12-10 Malaysia; China 47-0 Sri Lanka; Hong Kong 54-5 Malaysia; China 45-10 Malaysia; Hong Kong 38-5 Sri Lanka
5th-8th Place Semi Finals: Thailand 22-0 Malaysia; Philippines 15-19 Sri Lanka
Semi-Finals: Japan 29-0 Hong Kong; Kazakhstan 19-24 China
7th Place Match: Malaysia 12-5 Philippines
5th Place Match: Thailand 45-0 Sri Lanka
3rd Place Match: Hong Kong 12-10 Kazakhstan
Final: Japan 14-12 China