Kazakhstan win first Asian Games women's gold

(IRB.COM) Tuesday 23 November 2010
 
 Kazakhstan win first Asian Games women's gold
Kazakhstan survived a late scare to win a historic gold medal

Kazakhstan have been crowned the first ever Asian Games Women's Rugby Sevens champions after beating hosts China 17-14 in a thrilling final at the University Town Main Stadium in Guangzhou on Tuesday.

China, who had beaten Kazakhstan in the Asian Women's Sevens Championship final at the same venue in July, had not conceded a point in reaching the title decider as they lived up to their billing as gold medal favourites.

Kazakhstan, though, had a squad brimming with experience with 11 of their 12 players having been involved in Women's Rugby World Cup 2010 in England, and it took only four minutes for Irina Amossova to score the first try.

It was the hosts, though, who went in leading 7-5 at half time after Fan Wenjuan converted Wang Qianli's try. This advantage lasted barely three minutes into the second half before Lyudmila Sherer edged second seeds Kazakhstan back ahead.

An enthusiastic crowd of 25,000 had cause to cheer again when Gao Yan converted her own try to give China a 14-12 lead, only for Kazakhstan captain Anna Yakovleva to touch down. China could still have snatched victory at the death, but cruelly lost the ball over the try-line.

FULL RESULTS >>

The battle for bronze was an equally tight affair with  extra-time needed to split Thailand and Hong Kong after Samantha Scott scored a try for the latter on full-time to tie the match at 12-12. Within a minute of extra-time, though, Tidarat Sawatnam’s try gave Thailand the medal.

China had proved too strong for Hong Kong in the first semi final, a hat-trick from Fan Wenjuan helping the hosts to a 34-0 victory and a gold medal decider against Kazakhstan, who needed Irina Amossova’s last gasp try to ease any nerves and beat Thailand 22-14.

Hong Kong had earlier caused the first surprise of the women’s event, beating fourth seeds Japan 19-14 in the quarter finals thanks to Poon Pak Yan’s try three minutes from time after their opponents had hit back to tie the match.

The other quarter finals went according to the seedings with China proving too strong for India in the first match on Tuesday, winning 42-0 to ensure their try-line remained uncrossed and set up a rematch with Hong Kong in the last four, a side they had beaten 29-0 on day two.

Kazakhstan, the vastly experienced second seeds, brushed aside Korea – who only played their first tournament back in July – 52-0 in their quarter final to remain on course for the expected final against China, with Thailand standing between them and that goal after beating Singapore 27-5.

In the play-offs to determine fifth to eighth places, Japan bounced back well from the disappointment of losing to Hong Kong to beat India 46-0 and Singapore 31-0 to finish fifth. India also finished on a high, beating Korea 21-10 to finish seventh and record their first win of the Games.