Japan successfully defended its Borneo Sevens title in a gripping final against Hong Kong today at the Likas Stadium in Sabah. The Borneo Sevens is the first of four events on this year’s HSBC Asian Sevens Series 2012 (HSBC A7s).
Although trailing 12-17 in the first half, Japan bounced back in the second half with four tries and three conversions making the final points tally 33-22 at the end of the 20-minute (10 minute halves) Cup Final.
The key break for Japan, who were trailing 22-19 with 90 seconds remaining on the clock, was a yellow card against Hong Kong’s Alex McQueen for failing to retreat after a penalty. Japan made rapid use of its man advantage to score a crucial try through wing Kenichi Yokoyama that was beautifully converted by Japan captain Katsuyuki Sakai.
Japan ratcheted up the pressure as they capitalized on a Hong Kong fumble from the re-start to score again, this time through Sione Teaupa. Captain Sakai’s conversion was again successful bringing the final score to 33-22 and returning the Borneo Sevens Cup to Japan for a second consecutive year.
New Japan Sevens coach Tomohiro Segawa marked his debut win with the squad after replacing former coach Wataru Murata after the Tokyo Sevens.
Segawa maintained that even though Japan were down he never lost confidence in his squad, saying: “I asked the players to keep two things in mind – get possession of the ball from the kick off and don’t concede any penalties. We have a new squad for this year’s HSBC Asian Sevens Series and I am very pleased with the performance of the players and that we were able to defend the title.
“We played hard for 20 minutes and although the Hong Kong team is very experienced, I was confident that we could win if we kept possession of the ball and kept on the attack,” Segawa said, adding that he was also grateful for the many supporters and fans of the team in Borneo.
In the Asia-Pacific Women’s Rugby Sevens final earlier, reigning Women’s World Cup Sevens champions Australia defeated Japan 36-17 on their Borneo debut.
Earlier, Japan and Hong Kong had both reached the Cup semi finals from the Asian side of the draw, a remarkable result that saw Asia’s number one and two sevens sides, China and Kazakhstan, relegated to the plate, which Kazakhstan won 29-14