Japan and China win gold at Asian Games

Oct 3 • General News, International, Sevens Rugby • 1983 Views • Comments Off on Japan and China win gold at Asian Games

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Japan’s men and China’s women had cause to celebrate after winning exciting gold medal matches in the Rugby Sevens competitions at the Asian Games 2014 in Incheon, Korea, on Thursday,

Defending champions Japan came out on top in the men’s competition, beating Hong Kong – just as they had done four years earlier – 24-12 in the final after outscoring their rivals four tries to two.

There was to be no double golden celebration for Japan, though, as their women’s side were edged 14-12 by China in their final.

“This win means a lot to us. Only one team from Asia will be going to the Rio Olympics, and we have put down a marker,” said Michael Leitch, the captain of Japan’s Fifteens team who was a late addition to the Sevens squad for the Games.

Hong Kong entered the Asian Games having won the first two rounds of the ARFU Asian Sevens Series, but couldn’t quite find the winning formula against a Japanese outfit beefed up with Top League players including Leitch, who scored one of his side’s four tries in the final.

Rowan Varty drew first blood when he cut through the Japan defence to score the first try of the final after both teams had spent the first five minutes going hammer and tongs at each other.

Superb defence

Japan drew level through Leitch, who bulldozed his way over from close range, but he was sin-binned seconds later for a dangerous tackle. Hong Kong failed to take advantage, however, as a superb Japanese defence kept them out.

With the hooter having gone for half-time, Hong Kong opted to keep the ball alive with a quick tap. But they got turned over and the loose ball was hacked downfield by Japan. The mistake proved costly as Hong Kong winger Tom McQueen was penalised for obstruction in the foot race and a penalty try was awarded to Japan.

Hong Kong came back after the break when replacement Salom Yiu Kam-shing scored soon after coming on, but tries from Lomano Lemeki and Kazushi Hano saw Japan finish strongly.

“A silver medal is a great achievement but it is still a disappointment as we had come here to win the gold,” said Hong Kong captain Jamie Hood.

Hong Kong reached the final after a 15-7 win against a resilient Korean side. The Games’ hosts led 7-5 at the break with a try from winger Jeong Yeon-Sik cancelling out an earlier score from winger Varty. A change of tactics saw Hong Kong pin Korea into their own half and the pressure paid off with tries to McQueen and Hood.

Japan had it easier in the other semi-final as they breezed to a six-try, 40-0 win over Sri Lanka with star player Lemeki grabbing a hat-trick.
Korea went on to win the bronze medal by defeating a spirited Sri Lanka 17-14 in a tense game.

Titanic battle for women’s gold

The women’s final was equally enthralling as China held off a late surge from Japan to win 14-12 and claim the gold medal that eluded them at home in 2010.

Lilian Zhou gave the Chinese the perfect start with a try in the first minute, but Japan fought back to level the scores through Marie Yamaguchi’s try. It looked like the sides would be level at half-time but with the last play Shuchao Sun touched down to make it 14-7 to China.

The second half was equally tight and end to end with the score remaining that way until Chiharu Nakamura touched down for Japan. The conversion was crucially missed so China still led with three minutes to go and a nervous finish was guaranteed.

Japanese replacement Yoko Suzuki scored what she thought was the match-winning try right at the death, but it was ruled out by the referee for a forward pass and Japan had to settle for the silver – their first medal in the Asian Games women’s rugby competition.

Kazakhstan won the bronze medal after overturning a pool loss to Hong Kong with a 12-0 win in the third place play-off.

“We turned over too much ball and you can’t win a game unless you have possession,” said a disappointed Rose Fong, one of the stalwarts of the Hong Kong side.

China had earlier run in four tries past Kazakhstan, the side that beat them in the 2010 final in Guangzhou, to book their place in the final with a 24-12 victory, while Japan warded off a spirited Hong Kong side to win the other semi-final, 17-10.

Final standings
Men
1. Japan
2. Hong Kong
3. Korea
4. Sri Lanka
5. Philippines
6. China
7. Thailand
8. Chinese Taipei
9. Malaysia
10. Lebanon
11. Pakistan
12. Saudi Arabia

Women
1. China
2. Japan
3. Kazakhstan
4. Hong Kong
5. Thailand
6. Singapore
7. Uzbekistan
8. Malaysia
9. Korea
10. Laos

Courtesy of IRB

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