Japan men claim back Asian Sevens crown
Japan's men produced a remarkable second half fightback to beat Hong Kong 24-19 in the Cup final of the Singapore Sevens and reclaim the HSBC Asian Sevens Series title.
The Singapore tournament was the fourth and final round of Asia's growing Series and Japan's win meant that they denied Hong Kong the Series title.
The victory means that the Brave Blossoms' Sevens team will host the sixth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the Tokyo Sevens on 22-23 March, as proud Asian champions.
A week later, in Hong Kong, they will also take part alongside the main competition in the 12-team core team qualification battle, the winner of which will gain automatic promotion as a core team for the 2014/15 World Series.
Both Japan and Hong Kong impressed in the pool stages in Singapore, winning all of their matches, and in knockout play Japan kept up that momentum. First they despatched Malaysia 41-5 and in the Cup semi-final they were too good for China, winning 26-0.
In the final they faced Hong Kong on a knife-edge, knowing that a loss would give Hong Kong the Asian title.
That looked the likely outcome as Hong Kong led 19-5 at the break, but Japan stormed back in the second half to win 24-19.
"This team really came together and to take the title and become series champions is fantastic," said Japan head coach Tomohiro Segawa.
"We struggled at times against Hong Kong in the final but our defence and ability to move the ball quickly in attack got us there in the end. We aim to become a core team on the HSBC Sevens World Series and also win an Olympic medal and we are going to work hard to achieve these ends.”
Captain Katsuyuki Sakai added: "We achieved our goal here in Singapore of winning the overall Asian Series title. In the tough final against Hong Kong it was not just our skills but our fighting spirit that got us the result."