Kazakhstan and South Africa took the final two places at the Women's Rugby World Cup in Paris next year following their victories in the Asian and African qualifiers on Saturday.
The day began on a cloudless day in Almaty, Kazakhstan with Singapore and Hong Kong competing for third place in the Asian tournament. The prize was retaining a place in the top division of Asian rugby, and Hong kong began as favourites. This was the tenth time the teams had met, and Hong Kong had never lost.
Several of Hong Kong's leading players had been released to play in the sevens tournament at the Chinese National Games, but despite being at less than full strength Hong kong still lead into the final minute - before a dramatic try with seconds to go gave Singapore the game by 17-15.
The final of the tournament now followed. Japan had never beaten their hosts but under a blazing sun they opened the scoring after 15 minutes with a penalty when Kazakhstan were deemed to be offside.
Ten minutes later Japan increased their lead with the opening try of the game when Marie Yamaguchi - who had dotted down six tries in the semi-final win over Hong Kong earlier in the week - scored close to the posts after a quick tap penalty.
Japan went 15-3 up after a try which saw great inter play between the forwards, but this stung the home side into a response and they got their first try after strong running from outside centre Lyudmila Sherer saw her go over in the corner to leave it 15-10 at half time.
The Kazahks came out firing after the break and a period of sustained pressure saw Sherer run in again from 40 metres out, and this was followed by a try by captain Anna Yakovleva. An exchange of penalties took the game into the final quarter with Kazakhstan 25-18 ahead. Kazakhstan were now under continual Japanese pressure. Try-scorer Sherer was yellow carded for a second high tackle by her team in the same phase of play, before a try from Koishybayeva brought Japan to within two points with three minutes left. However, reserve fly-half Kanematsu Yuka could not convert the try and the 14 players of Kazakhstan were able to hold out for the narrow 25-23 win.
Japanese captain Misaki Suzuki was hugely disappointed at the end, but looked back with some pride on their performance. "The team is very low at the moment, but we came take some good things out of the game today. We lost our lead the first half because we became too cautious and were reluctant to attack, and lost the initiative."
Coach Mitsutake Hagimoto was more positive, saying that "the players have grown to become great tacklers and dominated the physical game for short periods of time. Today they showed great courage against such large players as those of Kazakhstan and fought really well."
The action then moved to East London, where the Springbok Women booked their place in style with a convincing 63-3 victory in the African qualifier at the Buffalo City Municipal Stadium in East London, while Kazakhstan had to survive a late rally by Japan to triumph 25-23 in the final of the Asian qualifier.
South Africa's win was the biggest in the history of their women's team and reaffirmed their status as the top African team. It also secured their place at a third successive Women's Rugby World Cup.
The Springbok Women delivered on their goal to put pressure on the visitors early on, and were particularly effective at stretching Uganda's defence and finding space out wide, which allowed them to run riot on attack.
Centre Mathrin Simmers scored the first of her team's 11 tries in the opening 10 minutes to signal their intent early on.
Further tries from Marlien Cronje (2), Dolly Mavumengwana , Zandile Nojoko (2), Zenay Jordaan, Natasha Hofmeester, Asithandile Ntoyanto (2) and Nwabisa Ngxatu followed over the 80 minutes.
Uganda did not give up and used their powerful forwards to force their way into the home team's 22, but the hard work South Africa put in under the watchful eye of defence consultant Jacques Nienaber paid off, as they managed to shut them out.
As if trailing by a big margin were not tough enough, Uganda second row Evenlyne Aweku received a yellow card for playing the ball from an offside position at a ruck, which piled even more pressure on her team.
Uganda supported their solid defence with a determined effort on attack to retain possession for long periods, and it allowed them to work their way into the South African 22. But with the South Africans denying them from getting a sniff of the tryline, Racheal Babirye opted to kick for posts after being awarded a penalty, which allowed the visitors to score their only points of the match.
The Springbok Women finished off the match on a high note with flanker Ngxatu running in the 11th and final try to secure her side's 60-point victory and their biggest winning margin in history.