Japan, as expected, completed a clean sweep of all three legs of the Asian Sevens Championship in Colombo this weekend, but there were still plenty of surprises as Thailand reached their first final for 10 years.
Although Japan won – again - there were even more unexpected results in the third leg of Asian Championship than in the previous round in Korea.
Thailand have been the team of the series, improving in each round, and again opened up with a surprise win, this time against Hong Kong – a decisive 22-5 in a game where they lead from the first minute to the last.
A torrential downpour of rain between the rounds changed playing conditions entirely, and also delayed play for over an hour. Kazakhstan perhaps adjusted best for their key game with China, winning a nail-biting encounter 19-17. Having lead for almost all the game it looked like China had stolen the game in the final minute, only for Kazakhstan to respond to the final restart with a try to win the game.
It was a win that set them up, on Sunday morning, to win the pool – and ensure that China would meet Japan in the semi-finals, and not the final.
After their defeat, Hong Kong missed out on the final four and it was Thailand who met Kazakhstan. The teams were locked at 0-0 for the first half, but after a minute of the second Piyamat Chomphumee broke the deadlock with a try for Thailand. Nigora Nurmatova tied the scores for Kazakhstan in the final seconds, only for Butsaya Bunrak to win the game for Thailand after the buzzer. Thailand were in their first final since May 2009.
The second semi was almost as exciting, with China taking an early lead through Feifei Yang, and lead 14-12 at halftime. But Japan controlled the second half, and two tries from Yume Okuroda and Yume Hirano clinched the game.
Pool C: Hong Kong 5-22 Thailand; Japan 34-0 Sri Lanka; Thailand 36-5 Sri Lanka; Japan 24-0 Hong Kong; Hong Kong 22-10 Sri Lanka; Japan 31-0 Thailand
Pool D: Kazakhstan 52-0 Malaysia; China 61-0 Singapore; Malaysia 5-10 Singapore; China 17-19 Kazakhstan; Kazakhstan 48-0 Singapore; China 43-0 Malaysia
5th-8th Place Semi Finals: Hong Kong 22-10 Malaysia; Singapore 29-0 Sri Lanka
Semi-Finals: Japan 22-14 China; Kazakhstan 5-12 Thailand
7th Place: Malaysia 7-17 Sri Lanka
5th Place: Hong Kong 22-5 Singapore
3rd Place: China 31-0 Kazakhstan
Final: Japan 26-5 Thailand
1. Japan 36pts; 2. China 28; 3. Kazakhstan 22; 4. Hong Kong 19; 5. Thailand 18; 6. Sri Lanka 6; 7. Malaysia 6; 8. Singapore 6.