Japan win Asian Five Nations

(IRB.COM) Sunday 18 May 2008
 Japan win Asian Five Nations
Japan proved far too strong for Hong Kong in winning the first ever Asian 5 Nations

Japan wrapped up the inaugural Asian Five Nations on Sunday by beating Hong Kong 75-29 at Niigata’s Big Swan Stadium.

Asia's number one side proved far too strong for their closest continental rivals as they look to ramp up their preparations for the upcoming IRB Pacific Nations Cup, in which they will play tests against Tonga, Samoa and Fiji as well as matches against New Zealand Maori and Australia A.

John Kirwan’s men ran in 11 tries to finish the competition with a maximum 24 points from their four games.

“We have been working very hard for five weeks, so it was important to win today,” said Kirwan.

Shaun Webb, Bryce Robbins and Go Aruga all touched down for a brace and there were further five-pointers from Yuta Imamura, Takuro Miuchi, Hirotoki Onozawa, Ryu Koliniasi Holani and Koji Shinozuka as Japan made the most of their superior fitness.

James Arlidge added six conversions, Ryan Nicholas slotted three and Webb added one.

Rowan Varty was Hong Kong’s star performer, the 22-year old full back running in three tries with Justin Temara adding a conversion and two penalty goals and Kenzo Pannell knocking over two penalties.

“Hong Kong fought us well,” said Kirwan. “They put us under pressure as the scoreboard shows.”

It took Japan 16 minutes to get on the scoreboard when Imamura followed up on a chip kick by Arlidge and the Cherry Blossoms followed the opening score with three quick tries as forwards and backs interlinked. Webb’s second try on the stroke of half time stretched the hosts' lead to 35-6 at the break.

Japan added a further six tries in the second half but a couple of interceptions and a charge down allowed Varty to cross the Japan line on three occasions.

“We will need to look at those,” Kirwan said of the defensive lapses. “But the players are willing to work hard and are proud to wear the Japan jersey and that makes me proud.”

In the other match in the HSBC Asian Five Nations this weekend Korea beat Kazakhstan 40-21.