Japan have secured their place in the Women’s Sevens Series after a hard-fought 22-10 victory over South Africa in the final of the qualifying tournament in Hong Kong on Friday.
The Sakura Sevens' road to the final was devoid of any major hiccups. In the quarter-finals, they dispatched of China 28-14, whom they had previously beaten in the group stages on Thursday.
They followed this up with a 31-0 demolition of Italy in the semi-finals as Mayu Shimazu ran riot with two tries.
Meawnhile, South Africa beat Papua New Guinea 29-7 in the quarter-finals and Belgium 17-7 in the semi-finals. Zenay Jordaan proved to be the star player throughout the tournament. Her most memorable moment was a wonderfully taken chip and chase try to open the scoring against the Belgians and is right up there with the try of the tournament.
Renfred Dazel's side must have been thinking the trophy was theirs for the taking in the final, having scored two early tries to surge into a 10-0 lead.
But Keiko Asami's side responded in the best way possible with four unanswered tries from Chisato Yokoo, Ano Kuwai, Honoka Tsutsumi and Mayu Shimazu to win the match 22-10 and take their crown.
Speaking afterwards, Japan captain Chiharu Nakamura said: "We're happy to win and we wanted to win. We want to play the top level teams on the series and now we will. We will enjoy tonight!
"I'm really proud of the girls and they worked really hard. Every game was very tough for us so thank you to everyone who supported us."