Japan, Fiji, China and Kazakhstan finished day one of the Asian Women’s Sevens Championship unbeaten as the race to secure one of the three places at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 on offer hots up in Pune, India.
The Japanese will tackle Thailand in the first Cup quarter-final on Sunday, while Oceania representatives Fiji tackle Singapore, China face Hong Kong and Kazakhstan meet Chinese Taipei.
In Pool A, Hong Kong impressively kicked off the tournament with a 36-0 victory over hosts India, who were also heavily beaten 49-0 by Japan. This set up the expected decider between two traditional rivals.
Speedsters Marie Yamaguchi and Natasha Olson-Thorre traded tries before Japan pulled away to win 19-5 and secure top spot in the pool. Hong Kong will now hope to repeat their win over China just a month ago at the Asia-Pacific Women’s Sevens in Kota Kinabalu.
Pool B provided some of the most explosive action of the opening day as Fiji – the best placed side behind New Zealand and Australia at the Oceania qualifier in August – introduced Asia to its wide open and hard hitting style.
Fiji scored 130 points in three matches and conceded just 14 to top Pool B with Asinate Ufia Savu in fine form, scoring five tries on day one, but captain Ana Marie Roqira insists they still have plenty to work on.
“Even though we won our three matches, we are not happy with the performance. We made a lot of mistakes and there is plenty of room for improvement tomorrow.
“We are really enjoying the tournament, it is great to get the opportunity to play in Asia with so many Asian teams.
“Our goal is to win the tournament and qualify for RWC Sevens next year. We also want to prove ourselves and get the opportunity to play in the new IRB Women’s Sevens World Series.”
There were also a few surprises in Pool B with Chinese Taipei engineering commanding victories over Korea (45-0) and Sri Lanka (26-7), who then overwhelmed Korea 43-0 with braces from Ayesha Sewwandi and Thanuja Dilrukshi.
China, who won the Bowl at RWC Sevens 2009, were equally impressive and didn’t concede a single point on day one in beating the Philippines 29-0, Malaysia 49-0 and Thailand 41-0.
Fan Wenjuan was a standout player for China, scoring five tries across the three matches, while Wu Shichen stole the headlines with a hat-trick of tries in the win over Malaysia.
Thailand, another side who represented Asia at RWC Sevens 2009, finished as Pool C runners-up after comfortable wins over Malaysia (41-0) and the Philippines (31-7) but will face a tough test against Japan on Sunday.
Kazakhstan used its signature mix of speed, power and pinpoint passing to top Pool D – also without conceding a point – after overcoming the United Arab Emirates (41-0), Iran (36-0) and Singapore (31-0).
Lyudmila Sherer had the honour of scoring the first hat-trick of the day, while her teammate Marianna Balashova repeated the feat against Singapore. Kazakhstan did not have it all their own way against Iran, who started strong and attacked well.
Iran, who also lost 20-0 to Singapore, did have cause to celebrate on day one after beating UAE 10-5 for the biggest cheer of the day, making up for their lack of size with tenacity and aggressive defence.
“This weekend has been fantastic. The win against UAE was very good for the players, they were very happy and it gives them a big boost. They have been working very hard,” said Iran coach Firoozch Cbradimi.
“I hope they keep this up for tomorrow. We aim to win our matches tomorrow and we believe we can do it. There are too few chances to play in Iran.”
Asian Women's Sevens Championship results
09:00 - Hong Kong 36-0 India (Pool A)
09:20 - Chinese Taipei 45-0Korea (Pool B)
09:40 - Fiji 44-7 Sri Lanka (Pool B)
10:00 - Singapore 20-0 Iran (Pool D)
10:20 - Kazakhstan 31-0 UAE (Pool D)
10:40 - Thailand 41-0 Malaysia (Pool C)
11:00 - China 29-0 Philippines (Pool C)
11:20 - Japan 44-0 India (Pool A)
11:40 - Chinese Taipei 26-7 Sri Lanka (Pool B)
12:00 - Fiji 50-0 Korea (Pool B)
12:20 - Singapore 19-15 UAE (Pool D)
12:40 - Kazakhstan 36-0 Iran (Pool D)
13:00 - Thailand 31-7 Philippines (Pool C)
13:20 - China 49-0 Malaysia (Pool C)
13:40 - Japan 19-5 Hong Kong (Pool A)
14:00 - Korea 0-43 Sri Lanka (Pool B)
14:20 - Fiji 36-7 Chinese Taipei (Pool B)
14:40 - Iran 10-5 UAE (Pool D)
15:00 - Kazakhstan 39-0 Singapore (Pool D)
15:20 - Malaysia 7-40 Philippines (Pool C)
15:40 - China 41-0 Thailand (Pool C)
09:00 - Bowl QF1: India v Malaysia
09:20 - Bowl QF2: Sri Lanka v United Arab Emirates
BYE - Bowl QF3: Philippines
09:40 - Bowl QF4: Iran v Korea
10:00 - Cup QF1: Japan v Thailand
10:20 - Cup QF2: Fiji v Singapore
10:40 - Cup QF3: China v Hong Kong
11:00 - Cup QF4: Kazakhstan v Chinese Taipei