South Korea ran in six tries to power past Kazakhstan 40-21 and chalk their second victory in the inaugural Asian Five Nations rugby tournament yesterday.
But it proved too little too late for the South Koreans with Japan, who have represented Asia at all six Rugby World Cups, only needing to draw against Hong Kong in Niigata today to claim the title.
Kim Young-nam gave South Korea the lead in the 17th minute when he crossed for their first try, but plucky Kazakhstan bounced back with Iklar Abdrazakor leveling the scores 11 minutes later.
Maxim Litopton duly converted the kick to unexpectedly hand them a two point lead.
But their hopes were soon dashed with South Korea back in front one minute later thanks to a Kim Tae-hyung try and a conversion by Hong Jun-ki.
South Korea racked up four more tries in the second half, one each from Chae Jae-young, You Young-nam, Kim Jeong-min and Park Noh-hoon, but they had an off day in the kicking department with none of the tries converted.
Tries by Dmitriy Pichugim and Grigori Ivanchenko opened the door again for Kazakhstan, but they could not close the gap further.
Kazakhstan have now lost all three games they have played.
The Arabian Gulf, the other team in the top tier of the Asian tournament, have the weekend off after running up three straight defeats.