China edges Japan to win women's rugby gold at Asian Games

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China clinched women's rugby gold medal by defeating Japan 14-12 at Incheon Asian Games on Thursday.

Hours before the finals, China overcame former Asiad champion Kazakhstan in the semifinal round by 24-12. The two teams were closely contested in both power and speed, but Chinese players' positive performance helped them to advance into the finals.

The gold medal match was the second meeting between China and Japan during the three-day rugby competition. Compared with the landslide victory of 28-7 the previous day, China faced a much tougher opponent on Thursday.

The Chineses national team used a combination of surprise runs on offense and physical tackles on defense to take a 14-7 lead in the first half, with its Zhou Lilian scoring the first try. But in the second half, Japanese athletes became more aggressive, pushing China back to touchdown line with precise passes and cut the lead from 7 to 2 points.

In the last second, Japan succeeded to step into the touchdown line. Japanese crowd cheered for the dramatic turn around. Even Chinese players were in panic. But China was the one that won the match. The pass before Japan passed the line was a failure and the score was not admitted.

Lu Xiaohui, the team coach of China told Xinhua with mixed feeling after the game: "No matter how tough the match was, we finally made it, especially for those veterans who participated in the Guangzhou Asiad when we lost to Kazakhstan."

Talking about the day's match, Lu said: "Though rugby seven is a game that everything can happen, the strength is still the most important factor, without which China wouldn't win. However, the game also highlighted some problems. We will correct them actively and set the upcoming Olympic Games as a goal."

Liu Chenglong, the team manager of China, commented: "Our players have good physical ability, such as power and speed. However, Japan has professional leagues that gives them good and deep experience. It's a strong rival anyhow."

Kazakhstan, which is seen as one of the strongest teams in Asia, took the bronze medal after beating Hong Kong, China 12-0. Talking about the previous loss to China in the semifinals, they felt somehow regrettable.

Svetlana Klyuchnikova from Kazakhstan said: "We wanted to win the game, because in the last Asian Games we were the champion. But today, before the game, we lost our captain (due to injury). Our captain is 50 percent of our game."

On the men's side, the Chinese national team finished in the sixth place after losing to the Philippines 28-21.

In the last match of the day, Japanese men's team had a 24-12 victory over Hong Kong, China to win the gold. This is the third straight men's rugby title for Japan in the Asian Games. The bronze medal went to South Korea. Enditem

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