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Japan qualify for 2015 Rugby World Cup

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 25/05/2014 Canberra Times
Justin Ives touches down for Japan. © AFP Justin Ives touches down for Japan.

Japan have qualified for their eighth straight Rugby World Cup with a 49-8 win over Hong Kong in the final of the Asian Five Nations in the last sporting event at Tokyo's National Stadium.

Japan have never lost an Asian Five Nations match in the seven-year history of the competition - which this year doubles as a World Cup qualifier - and were never seriously troubled by Hong Kong on Sunday.

The visitors finished as runners-up and now face Uruguay in the first round of the World Cup repechage.

Two tries for Yoshikazu Fujita and one apiece for Harumichi Tatekawa and Justin Ives staked Japan to a comfortable half-time lead before Thomas McQueen pulled one back for Hong Kong after the break.

But the hosts stretched their legs with a try for substitute Shinya Makabe before Fujita completed his hat-trick and Takeshi Kizu and Keisuke Uchida rounded off the scoring.

Japan coach Eddie Jones was delighted to sign off in style from the iconic stadium, which was built to stage the 1964 Olympics and will now make way for a new venue to be used when Japan hosts the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

"It was fantastic. You look at the background and see the flames there that were lit 50 years ago, and to play the last game here was a special occasion for us," said Jones.

"We finished with a bit of a flurry, so I'm sure the fans will come again and support us and I'll sure they'll come to the next game which will be the World Cup in 2019."

Second-row forward Hitoshi Ono made his 80th international appearance in the game to move level with Hirotoki Onozawa as Japan's most-capped player.

AFP

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