Japan takes control of Asian Sevens Series

(IRB.COM) Monday 23 September 2013
 
 Japan takes control of Asian Sevens Series
Japan celebrate winning the Thailand Sevens, their second success on the Asian Series

Japan’s new Rugby Sevens sensation Lomano Lemeki once again proved a match-winner as he scored the golden try in sudden death extra time to give his team a thrilling 17-12 victory over Hong Kong in the Cup final of the second round of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series in Thailand.

Lemeki, who was named player of the tournament in Malaysia earlier this month, scored 11 tries in Thailand to continue his rapid rise for Japan, who host the sixth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the Tokyo Sevens, on 22-23 March 2014.

Playing his first season for Japan, Lemeki was on hand to pick up and score after the ball had been turned over in the first-minute of extra time in the final to allow Japan to take a huge step towards reclaiming their HSBC Asian Sevens Series crown from Hong Kong.

Hong Kong led 12-0 at the break with tries from Tom and Alex McQueen but Japan hit back with tries from Takashi Suzuki and Dai Ozawa, the latter just seconds before the end of regulation play, to push the final into extra time.

“We just went back to basics. In the first half Hong Kong had the ball for eight of the 10 minutes and we knew if we had to make a comeback we needed to lay our hands on the ball and keep control of it,” Lemeki said.

With victory in both of the first two rounds – Japan defeated Hong Kong 14-10 in the Malaysia final – the Brave Blossoms only need to win one of the last two rounds (Mumbai, India, and Singapore) to reclaim the Asian title from Hong Kong.

“The pressure is on us, we cannot afford to slip up now and we need to win both of the remaining two legs,” admitted Hong Kong assistant coach, Alex Gibbs. “This is a two-horse race now with both of us clear of the rest of the pack.”

Both Japan and Hong Kong had swept into the finals with comfortable wins in their earlier games. Japan defeated Malaysia 38-7 in the quarter-finals and Sri Lanka 52-5 in the semi-finals, while Hong Kong looked impressive as they brushed aside Kazakhstan 31-0 before overcoming Korea 27-0.

Sri Lanka’s resurgence this season continued to gather momentum as they swept into the Cup semi-finals for the second successive tournament with a composed 26-0 win over hosts Thailand.

Scrum-half Srinath Suriyabandara, who had scored a hat-trick against Kazakhstan in pool play, was at the centre of their attacking play with wing Sandun Herath providing pace outside as they bounced back from their lethargic semi-final display to defeat Korea 29-7 in the third place play-off.
 
The Philippines held off hosts Thailand to take the Plate 22-14 and China bounced back from a forgettable weekend marked by indiscipline and injury to claim the Bowl with a 21-14 win over Chinese Taipei.

India, hosts of the next tournament in Mumbai in in October, won the Shield defeating the United Arab Emirates handily 31-10.

Hong Kong Sevens

Round 7
28-30 Mar 2014

Venue: Hong Kong Stadium
City: Hong Kong
Capacity: 40,000 

 
Pools
Pool A
TeamPlayedPts
FIJ39
WAL37
KEN35
SRI33
Pool B
TeamPlayedPts
AUS39
RSA37
FRA35
ESP33
Pool C
TeamPlayedPts
ENG39
CAN37
ARG35
POR33
Pool D
TeamPlayedPts
NZL39
USA35
SAM35
SCO35
more
Photos
  • DJ Forbes, NZ
  • Tom Mitchell of England
  • NZ win HK Sevens