Sakura Sevens continue good form on Day 1 in Tokyo

TOKYO (Nov. 28) – The Japan women’s sevens team remained unbeaten following the first day of the second leg of the Asian Rugby Sevens Qualifier on Saturday at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground.

Keiko Asami’s team beat China 20-7, Guam 39-0 and Hong Kong 27-5 to top the standings ahead of Kazakhstan on points difference and remain on course to claim Asia’s automatic spot at the Rio Olympics.

The Sakura Sevens entered the tournament having beaten Kazakhstan in the final of the first leg in Hong Kong three weeks ago and a repeat performance will see them avoid the global repecharge for the sides finishing second to fourth.

In the opening game of the day, Marie Yamaguchi touched down twice and there were also five-pointers for Yume Okurode and Mifuya Koide as Asami’s team avenged their only loss in the pool stage three weeks ago in Hong Kong.

Koide continued her good form in the second game by picking up a brace of tries as did Yoko Suzuki with Yamaguchi, Yuka Kanematsu and Makiko Tomita also crossing the whitewash as Japan kept the Pacific islanders scoreless.

The Sakura Sevens then finished the day with a comprehensive win over Hong Kong, thereby all but eliminating the Anna Richards’ team from contention.

Tomita wrapped up a superb defensive effort with the final score and there were tries for Koide, Aya Takeuchi, Ano Kuwai and Chisato Yokoo.

Kazakhstan beat Sri Lanka 34-0, Hong Kong 29-5 and China 14-0 to set up a grandstand finish to the pool stage on Sunday when they take on Japan.

The side’s finishing first and second then advance to the final and the combined points from the two legs (in which the winners get six, the runners-up five down to one for sixth place) determine which side automatically represents Asia in Rio.