Japan smash Hong Kong in Asian Five Nations

Asian rugby powerhouse Japan ran in nine tries in a 59-6 win over Hong Kong on Saturday, continuing their 100 percent record in the Asian Five Nations tournament.

The defending champions, much changed after last week’s mauling of Kazakhstan in Osaka, proved too strong for the home side, who failed to muster a single try.

Japan put the match beyond Hong Kong’s reach in the opening period and maintained their pressure in the second spell.

The contest was even in a scrappy opening to the first half, with a Kenzo Pannell penalty taking the score to 5-3 after an early unconverted try by Japan’s Jack Tarrant.

Hong Kong were able to maintain sustained pressure on the Japanese defence and a second Pannell penalty narrowed the deficit to 12-6 but two further converted tries gave the powerful Japan team a 26-6 lead at half-time.

In the second period the visitors, who won all their fixtures in last year’s inaugural Asian Five Nations, maintained their stranglehold on the match, dominating possession.

Japan, ranked 16 in the world against Hong Kong’s 31, already have one eye on the 2011 Rugby World Cup, with head coach John Kirwan keen to build an extended squad of more than 30 players for the World Cup.

The Asian Five Nations next year will be the Asian qualifiers for the showpiece tournament in New Zealand. Japan, who have represented Asia in all previous World Cups, are outright favourites to clinch the spot again.

In the second game on Saturday, South Korea, last year’s runners-up were due to play away to Kazakhstan in Almaty. Korea defeated Singapore 65-0 in their opening game last week.

Result from a match between Hong Kong and Japan in the Asian Five Nations rugby tournament here on Saturday:

Hong Kong 6 Japan 59 (H-t: 6-26)


Hong Kong:
Penalties – Kenzo Pannell (2)

Tries – Jack Tarrant, Naoki Kawamata, Yoshitaka Nakayama, Kensuke Hatakeyama (2), Takashi Kikutani, Hitoshi Ono, Hirotoki Onozawa, Fumiaki Tanaka.
Conversions – Ryan Nicholas (7)

Sapa-AFP Rugbyweek.com

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