Japan ran in to 10 tries for a dominant 58-0 victory over Hong Kong in their first of two matches in the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship 2017.
Five tries in each half at the Shiroyama Athletic Field in Odawara saw Japan to victory in the penultimate match for both sides ahead of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 in Ireland next month.
The result had no impact on the World Rugby Women's Rankings with Japan remaining 14th, nine places above Hong Kong, going into the return match at Kings Park next Saturday.
It took only five minutes for winger Riho Kurogi to score the opening try and Japan had the bonus point in the bag by the time the clock hit 24 minutes after further tries from winger Enko Hirano, hooker and captain Seina Saito and number eight Sayaka Suzuki.
Saito touched down her second try on the stroke of half-time to send her side in with a 29-0 lead, but barely a minute after play resumed that had increased with Kurogi scoring her second try of the match.
Centres Iroha Nagata and Keiko Kato and winger Hirano crossed the try-line before the hour mark and it was left to Nagata to score the 10th and final try with 10 minutes to play in Odawara.
“Our performance today is not good enough if we really want to aim to reach the top eight at the WRWC,” said Saito. “That’s all I can say about today’s game. We have a week to go to the next one in Hong Kong, so we will fix our problems and show the accuracy of play needed at the level of top eight in our next match in Hong Kong.”
Hong Kong coach Jo Hull was understandably disappointed with her side’s performance, coming only a month before they make their Women’s Rugby World Cup debut against Canada.
“We played some okay rugby in parts and forced them into some mistakes defensively, but we let ourselves down, particularly at the contact area, and our set piece is underperforming at the moment, which is hurting us,” said Hull.
“We have seven days before our next test, so we need to review and get back to work on what we need to get right. That will be a good preparation for us for the World Cup, where we are going to have to be able to contest back-to-back tough matches.
“We are a month out from our biggest ever challenge and the players are aware that today was an unacceptable performance when we are wearing the Hong Kong jersey, but it doesn’t change what we are doing or our belief in ourselves, our training and what we are working on. This is another opportunity now for us to get better.”
Photo credit: JRFU