Women beat Kazakhs to earn final Asia berth China's women made history when they became the first mainland rugby team to enter a World Cup after they clinched the third and final berth available for Asia at the Hong Kong Football Club yesterday. It might have been double delight for Japan with their women joining their male counterparts by winning the Asian qualifiers for the 2009 World Cup Sevens in Dubai. But it was China, captained by Liu Yan, who stirred the imagination as they defeated Kazakhstan 17-5 to seal their berth. 'This is a huge result for Chinese rugby. By going to the World Cup we will raise the profile of rugby in China. It will bring more attention from the media back home as well as the government,' said elated head coach Zheng Hongjung. The Women's World Cup Sevens will be held for the first time and China made sure they would be at the party as they clinched the third-place play-off, defeating the reigning Asian champions. That victory will allow the women to tread where the men have never gone - something which Zheng was not surprised about. 'There is more potential among the women than the men at the moment. 'Although there are only eight women's teams in all of China, they seem to have adapted faster to international rugby than the men,' said Zheng. Johnny Zhang Zhiqang and the men's team failed in their quest for a first-ever World Cup berth when they were knocked out of contention by Japan, 24-0, in the semi-finals. The same fate befell the women, who lost 14-7 to Thailand in their semi-final. But with three qualifying berths up for grabs in the women's competition - only two were available for the men - China had another bite at the cherry. And they made the most of it, scoring three tries thanks to some superb handling and passing which left the physically bigger Kazakhs at a loss. 'We are very, very happy to have won,' said skipper Liu, who scored the opening try in the decider. 'This is the first time China will be playing in a World Cup and we are very proud to have achieved this.' It is a remarkable feat considering that, for the majority of the team, it was their first ever appearance at an international tournament. 'We lost quite a few of our more experienced players as they have finished university and moved on. But the girls who came here were very committed and proved themselves,' Liu said. Having only taken up the game four years ago, Liu said she would be looking forward to the World Cup next March. 'We had three months preparation for this tournament. We will now start preparing for the World Cup and after this performance, we can only improve,' she added. Joining China at the World Cup will be Japan and Thailand. They met in the final, played in driving rain, and Japan prevailed 17-12 to make it two-out-of-two for the Cherry Blossoms. Japan had booked their berth in the final with a shock 5-0 win over Kazakhstan. The Japanese tackled their hearts out against their error-ridden opponents, who spilled passes left and right. Hong Kong finished fifth in the standings, winning both their classification games yesterday. They first thumped Taiwan 31-0 before overcoming the Arabian Gulf 12-0. But having failed to make it through to the last four on the opening day, Emma Holland and her teammates will be left with regrets.