Kazakhstan confirmed their position as the number one team in Asia ahead of this summer’s Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 after mounting a successful defence of their Asian Four Nations title.
Following wins over Singapore and Hong Kong, in the final round of fixtures Kazakhstan recorded a 49-17 victory over Japan to be crowned Asian champions for the third year running.
In scoring five tries and 29 points without reply, Kazakhstan had the result effectively sewn up by half-time.
Wings Nigora Nurmatova and Liliya Bazyaruk set the tone when they crossed the Japanese line inside the first five minutes, and thereafter Kazakhstan continued to overpower their opponents in all facets of play.
Nurmatova crossed for her second on 14 minutes and there were further scores for Kundyzay Bakhtybayeva and Svetlana Karatygina before the first half was out.
Japan produced a far better showing after the break, wing Ayako Tanaka scoring a try with the second half only a minute old.
But scrum half Amina Baratova, with the first of two second-half tries, quashed any thoughts of an unlikely comeback.
Japan pulled three points back through the boot of Yui Higuchi before Anna Yakovleva, Baratova, with her second, and Oxana Shadrina took the score to 49-10.
Number 8 Mami Okada’s late try will have been small consolation for Japan who finished third in the final standings after missing out on second place to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong secured their best-ever finish in the tournament after overwhelming Singapore 53-5 in their last match.
Hat-tricks from fly half Rose Fong and wing Natasha Olsen-Thorne propelled the home team to victory.
"This tournament has given us a lot of confidence and we can see ourselves capable of being Asia No.1 in the future,” said Hong Kong captain Christy Cheng Ka-chi.”
But it is Kazakhstan who go forward as Asia's top team to WRWC 2014, where improving on their 11th place finishes of the last two tournaments will take some doing given the quality of opposition.
The Kazakhs have been drawn in Pool B alongside reigning world champions New Zealand, former winners USA and Ireland, who finished WRWC 2010 as the second-best Home Nation behind runners-up England.
WRWC 2014 gets underway in France on August 1.