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Home > News > Japan right the form book in Asian 5N Championship
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Your News Japan right the form book in Asian 5N Championship
02
MAY

Japan opened its HSBC Asian 5 Nations (HSBC A5N) campaign with an emphatic 71-13 win today over Korea. The victory was paced by a remarkable five-try effort from winger Kosuke Endo.

After Hong Kong’s opening round upset of Korea, the Hong Kong XV was itself upended by the Arabian Gulf 16-9 last night at the Bahrain Rugby Football Club in the other match of the weekend. It was the Arabian Gulf’s first ever Top 5 win. Add in Sri Lanka’s upset of Singapore in the Division I championships two weeks ago and the run of results in this year’s HSBC A5N has been solidly against the conventional wisdom. Until today in Kyungsang, South Korea that is, as Japan remained true to form as the dominant force in Asian rugby.

In a classic game of two halves, the two-time HSBC A5N champions Japan started slow as the Koreans came out with a ferocious intent that saw them push the Japanese to the limits of their defence early on. Unfortunately a slow start with the boot from Korean fly-half Yoon, Hee-Soo who missed two of three kickable penalties in the first half prevented the Koreans from generating any early momentum.

Despite its sputtering start, Japan did just enough to distance themselves over the course of the first half to take a 19-3 lead at halftime through tries to hooker Shota Horie, scrumhalf Fumiaki Tanaka and winger Endo. The ever-reliable Ryan Nicholas added two conversions in the first half, and would finish with 8 on the day.

Korea’s defence was characteristically strong early on but the side let themselves down through repeated infringements that saw the inevitable sin-binning – this time to Korean scrum-half Park, Wan-Yong in the 37th minute. The resulting man advantage to Japan put paid to Korea’s promising start. By the time Park re-entered the park early in the second half, Japan had extended its lead to 33-3 and would never look back.

In a classic game of two halves, Japan came out firing on all cylinders in the second stanza, paced by a remarkable four more tries by winger Kosuke Endo in the second half, doubling his career try total up to that point. Japan’s Yasunori Nagatomo scored in the 41st minute and from that point on it was virtually one-way traffic as Takashi Kikutani, Hitoshi Ono and Hiroki Yuhara all crossed over. Endo’s quartet in the second half stole the show with tries in the 58th, 68th, 71st and 80th minutes.

Korea managed a try by Chae Jae Young – who plays his rugby in Japan with Toshiba – and a conversion and penalty by Oh Youn Hyung, but the fact that the last Korean penalty came in the closing stages showed that they had run out of ideas.

With their three remaining games in Tokyo, Japan remains on course to be Asia’s automatic entry at next year’s IRB Rugby World Cup where they would be seeded in Pool A alongside the hosts New Zealand, France, Tonga and Canada. But they will need to improve on their opening 40 minutes if they are to fulfil coach John Kirwan’s hopes of winning at least two games next year in New Zealand.

“The first half was not to our level,” said Kirwan. “We need to work harder moving forward. But I will take it as a first game and tell the team to start from the second half.”

Japan now returns home for three matches at the legendary Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo against the Arabian Gulf, Kazakhstan and Hong Kong.

Korea will regroup over a much needed bye week with more intensive preparation that sees a first training session tomorrow (Sunday). Korea is now under threat of relegation after both Hong Kong and the Arabian Gulf secured victories in the opening two weeks, although Hong Kong’s loss to the Gulf 16-9 on Friday has helped the Korean cause. Next up for Korea is a much improved Arabian Gulf in Dubai in two weeks before finishing with what promises to be a gangbuster versus Kazakhstan on May 22nd in Seoul. Next week sees one of the pivotal matches of the entire series as Hong Kong hosts last year’s HSBC A5N runners-up Kazakhstan (kick off 16.00 HKG time; GMT+8.00).

As title sponsor of the Asian 5 Nations (A5N), HSBC is committed to the development of the game throughout Asia. HSBC aims to bring positive social change to different cultures and communities through its diverse rugby sponsorships across the world. HSBC Rugby invests in over 30 different countries from the very pinnacle of the elite game through to the development of emerging rugby countries through the Asian 5 Nations. Each of HSBC’s rugby sponsorships share one common aim of uniting people and cultures through the positive values of rugby union.

HSBC is also a long-term sponsor of the Penguins International Rugby Club, which is represented by 30 nations and has provided coaching sessions to local communities in 62 countries. In partnership with ARFU and the HSBC Penguins Coaching Academy, HSBC supported a series of rugby coaching clinics throughout Hong Kong in the lead up to the A5N tournament. The commitment to grassroots development is continuing throughout the duration of the HSBC A5N with Youth Rugby Festivals reaching thousands of youth in Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Dubai, Bahrain, Indonesia, India, Laos, Cambodia and Nepal in the next few months.

Led by former Scotland head coach Frank Hadden, the clinics will be supported by a team of HSBC Penguins and HSBC A5N coaches as well as team stars from several Asian nations. To date, the youth festivals have been held in Hong Kong, Dubai, Macau, Singapore and Nepal. This weekend in Daegu, Korea the HSBC A5N Youth Rugby Festival saw Frank Hadden and his coaching team engaging high school students from two of Korea’s elite Rugby secondary schools based in Daegu. Frank and his team of A5N coaches also conducted a coach the coaches workshop for some of the leading schools and club coaches in Korea. Next week the HSBC A5N Youth Rugby Festivals will return to Hong Kong for the Hong Kong v Kazakhstan match before heading off to Dubai for some desert rugby ahead of the Arabian Gulf v Korea match.

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