South Korea sounded an early warning to their
rivals that they will be a force to reckon with at the Asian Games
in Guangzhou when they successfully defended the Shanghai Sevens
title on Sunday.
Korea overcame partisan support and a strong
challenge from hosts China in the Cup final to emerge worthy 38-17
winners to win the first of two ranking events in the IRB Asian
Rugby Sevens Series and also grab the early psychological high
The victory will pour cold water on the theory
that Korea are a spent force in Asian rugby circles, and will
firmly establish their credentials as serious contenders for a
gold medal at the Guangzhou Games in November.
Despite being relegated from the elite division
in the HSBC Asian Five Nations 15-a-side championship earlier this
year and finishing fifth at last month’s Asian Under-20
Championship, Korea showed plenty of bottle to ward off all
challengers in Shanghai.
They knocked out much-fancied Japan 33-12 in the
semi-finals before storming to victory past China in a
high-scoring final where they always looked in control. Mercurial
Korean back Kim Won Yong, last year’s player of the tournament,
again tormented his opposition in Shanghai with a hat trick of
tries to help propel Korea out to a 24-7 lead at halftime, a gap
that China was unable to bridge.
Korean coach Kim Yun Ki looked ahead to the
Asian Games saying, “We currently have four of our sevens players
playing in the Top League in Japan this weekend. We will get those
players back and have a month to prepare for the Games including
playing in Borneo. I believe that with these players in the team
we will be even stronger in Guangzhou.”
The win over Japan will be a welcome boost to
Korea who seem clearly focused on winning an Asian Games gold
medal. The result will be an eye-opener for the rest of the
chasing pack, especially Japan.
Japan had stormed back from a 17-0 deficit to
defeat arch-rivals Hong Kong 22-17 in the Cup quarterfinals. The
victory continues a grim losing record for Hong Kong who has lost
their last four outings against the Asian powerhouse – twice in
the regional sevens competition last year, in the gold medal final
at the East Asian Games and on the second day at the Hong Kong
Sevens in March.
Hong Kong head coach Dai Rees refused to be
downhearted by the loss to Japan and firmly believes the two sides
remain potential rivals for the coveted gold medal at the Asian
Games in Guangzhou in November.
“At the end of the day, we are still the top two
teams in Asia,” Rees said. “But the curse continues, our losing
streak against Japan goes on. We played very well, but against a
side like Japan, you have to nail that 1% and we didn’t
do that today.”
Hong Kong scored three early tries to take a
17-0 lead. They could have gone ahead 24-0 but a breakaway try was
disallowed and they were called back for a scrum inside their 22.
Japan won the scrum and scored a length-of-the field try just on
“That was a bit unfortunate as we could have put
the game beyond them,” Rees said. “Then the momentum swung their
way soon after the break when we missed a tackle to concede a soft
Malaysia fielding a Fijian brigade easily booked
their berth in the Cup semi-finals with a 28-0 victory over India
while home team China gave their supporters plenty of cheer as
they rolled over Guam 31-0.
Defending Shanghai Sevens champions South Korea
had a more arduous path to the final, coming up against stiff
opposition from a gutsy Sri Lanka outfit before scraping through
to a 21-14 victory.
Korea upped the tempo and their game in the
semi-finals against Japan breezing through to a 33-12 victory
while in the other semi-final, China buoyed by support from the
home fans edged out Malaysia 19-12.
In the third place playoff, Japan defeated
Malaysia 27-5 to clinch the bronze medal.
Hong Kong finished fifth in the tournament by
winning the Plate competition with a comprehensive 52-5 victory
over Guam. They had earlier defeated Sri Lanka 42-12 in the Plate
Day 2 Results -
Shanghai Sevens 2010
Cup Quarter Finals
Malaysia 28 India 0
Korea 21 Sri Lanka 14
Hong Kong 17 Japan
Guam 0 China 31
Cup Semi Finals
South Korea 33 Japan 12
China 19 Malaysia 12
Third Place Play Off
Korea 38 China 17
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