Japan captured the 2017 Asia Rugby Championship today after a 16- 0 win over Hong Kong.
Not only was it the Brave Blossoms day of victory, but it’s also their 25th title out of a possible 30 and their 10th straight since it became an annual tournament. However critics watching the match have commented that the performance today will hardly worry their opponents in 2019.
Jamie Joesph, head coach stated “It’s been a tough tournament, a lot tougher than last year. The Hong Kong team has improved so much and they really tested us last week as well as this week so we are really proud of the win today.”
As in Tokyo last week, the physicality of the Hong Kong pack served them well and they had the early edge in territory and possession. When Japan did get the ball, the visitors struggled to hold on to a wet, slippery ball.
The tightness of the game was reflected in the lack of scoring opportunities and the scoreboard operator had a quiet start to the evening, with both Jamie Hood and Takuya Yamasawa missing relatively simple kicks at goal.
However, the Japan flyhalf finally got his radar working in the 29th minute when he banged over a penalty from 43 metres out.
Yamasawa extended the lead shortly after the restart with a second penalty before adding the extras to Lotoahea’s try in the 47th minute after the Japan wing had been put away by Kanta Shikao.
But with tenacious defense and errors to the fore, there was no further score until the 66th minute when Yamasawa banged over his third penalty of the day to seal the win and the title.
So, the Asian Championship has been won by Japan, who will be glad to going into a time of reflection and building ready for the competitive Autumn internationals, when far sterner competition gracing the field.
In terms of my trip to the World Cup in 2019, I’ve not only decided to catch the England game, but feel the Japan vs Ireland game looks too tasty to miss, so hopefully the timetable will allow for that to be fitted in. I’ve currently raised £2k to do the trip, however if you company would like to sponsor this adventure in return for marketing support/bespoke reports from the world cup, then don’t hesitate in emailing firstname.lastname@example.org For more information on sponsoring the trip and why I’m doing it, simply visit https://japanrugby.blog/contact/