Japan’s men completed a second-half rally to book a berth at the 2016 Olympic rugby sevens tournament with a 24-10 victory over hosts Hong Kong in the final of the Asian qualifying event yesterday
Tries from Teruya Goto, Lemeki Lomano, Kazuhiro Goya and Katsuyuki Sakai allowed Tomohiro Segawa’s team to book their ticket for Rio and ensure the rugby fever sweeping Japan since the Brave Blossoms’ good showing at the recent World Cup continued.
Sakai also chipped in with two conversions.
In a far tighter final than many had anticipated, Alexander McQueen and Max Woodward gave the hosts a 10-0 halftime lead as Japan conceded their first points of the weekend.
Goto eventually crossed three minutes into the second half as Japan started to erase the errors that had plagued them in the first half.
Lomano and Goya then touched down in the space of a couple of minutes, the latter the result of some great handling by Lote Tuqiri. Sakai’s try sealed the win.
Hong Kong, South Korea and Sri Lanka, who finished from second to fourth, still have a chance of making it to Brazil as they will take part in a 16-team cross-continental repechage tournament with one ticket up for grabs.
Japan’s women are on course to join the men in Brazil but face an anxious wait before they can start dreaming of Rio.
The women’s competition is a two-legged affair, unlike the one-off tournament for the men, and reaches its conclusion in Tokyo on Nov. 29 with the winner determined by the points accumulated during the two events.
A 22-0 victory over Kazakhstan allowed Keiko Asami’s team to pick up six points as the first-leg winners but an earlier 12-5 loss to China means they cannot rest on their laurels, knowing there are other sides capable of beating them.
The sides finishing second to fourth in the women’s competition also have one more shot at making it to the Olympics, which welcomes rugby back to the fold for the first time since 1924.
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