• Kyodo

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The Sakura Sevens won the big prize on Saturday, capturing the women’s championship at the Hong Kong Sevens, the first event of the 2016 Asian Rugby Sevens Series.

The women beat Thailand in the cup semifinal 43-0 before defeating China 14-7. The men, however, slumped to a fifth-place finish. After losing two of their three pool games on Friday, the men defeated Taiwan 10-5 in the plate semifinal and knocked off Singapore 7-0 in the plate final.

In a scintillating women’s final, Japan was forced to come from behind. But tries from Chiharu Nakamura (named tournament MVP) and the equally outstanding Mayu Shimizu eventually saw the Sakura Sevens home.

“We really set our standard against Hong Kong and built the momentum from there,” said Japan forward Mateitoga Bogidrauma. “We really exercised our teamwork during the warm-up and off the field. Mayu Shimizu was the stand-out performer for the team.”

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