Kazakhstan and Japan set early pace
John Verghese, Gulf Times
April 28, 2007

Kazakhstan and Japan staged impressive performances to win all their matches on the opening day of the Asian Women's Rugby Sevens Championship at the Doha Rugby Football Centre here yesterday.

Three-time champions Kazakhstan who opened the day's proceedings thumping Thailand 28-5, thereafter registered victories over Uzbekistan (27-0), Sri Lanka (35-0) and Singapore (34-0) to top the eight-team league table with 16 points.

Strong contenders Japan who are on a mission to give exposure to the young players of the team, also had a profitable day as they completed a sweep, winning all their four matches against Hong Kong (22-7), Thailand (26-20), Uzbekistan (17-5) and the hosts Arabian Gulf Rugby Football Union (AGRFU), who went down 19-5. Japan however had to settle for the second place on the standings with 14 points, after finishing with a lesser points average.

Japanese coach Miho Enosawa attributed the team's fine display to a strong defence. "We have been practising a lot on improving our defence. It worked out fine for us today," she said.

"If we continue to play to our potential and our defence continues to function effectively then we have a bright chance of winning the Cup," she added.

"Tomorrow's league match against Kazakhstan will be key to assess our levels and our hopes in the competition . It should be a close match and the team which can adapt well to the hot weather conditions will be the winner.

"We have never beaten them before and it is a nice opportunity for us to get back at them," she said.

Thailand are third in the league table with 10 points.

Meanwhile, the AGRFU girls notched up three victories from their four outings to finish fourth in the standings with nine points. The team under New Zealand coach Wayne Marsters had wins against Singapore (10-0), Hong Kong (10-0) and Sri Lanka (17-5) but lost to Japan.

In the concluding match of the day, the AGRFU girls produced an attacking display as they cruised to a convincing win over the Lankan girls. Following two tries and a conversion by Natasha Robinson, who turns out for the Dubai Hurricanes in the Ladies League, the AGRFU strolled to 12-0 lead at half-time. After the break, the Lankans hit back through a try by Nilusha Sandamali to cut the deficit to 12-5. But another try by Sarah Cottrell enabled AGRFU to wrap up the match at 17-5.

Today's matches will start at 1.00 pm and the finals will be held from 6.00 pm.

Results:

AGRFU bt Singapore 10-0;

Kazakhstan bt Thailand 28-5;

Japan bt Hong Kong 22-7;

Uzbekistan bt Sri Lanka 10-5;

Thailand bt Singapore 22-5;

Japan bt AGRFU 19-5;

Kazakhstan bt Uzbekistan 27-0;

Hong Kong bt Sri Lanka 41-0;

Japan bt Thailand 26-20;

Singapore bt Uzbekistan 19-10;

AGRFU bt Hong Kong 10-0;

Kazakhstan bt Sri Lanka 35-0;

Japan bt Uzbekistan 17-5;

Thailand bt Hong Kong 24-5;

Kazakhstan bt Singapore 34-0;

AGRFU bt Sri Lanka 17-5.

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