Hopes alive for Sri Lanka

Saturday, 15 September 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Asian Sevens Series HK 2018

Shamseer Jaleel reporting from Hong Kong

The Sri Lanka Men’s Rugby Sevens outfit outclassed China 31-0 but lost out to Japan 21-0 yesterday at the Asian Sevens Series 2018 first leg in Happy Valley, Hong Kong. Meanwhile the Women’s outfit showed their lack of International exposure when they ran out of steam, losing out to a physical Kazakhstan outfit 36-0. They were able however to show better defence as well as attacking ways when they beat Singapore 17-5 in their second game.

Today, the Sri Lanka women will play China (7.30 a.m.) while the men will play Taipei (9:20 am) in their last group encounters. A win here for either side will qualify them for the Cup Semi-finals while the losers will be relegated to the Plate segment. 

Sri Lanka Men 31 - 0 China 

The Sri Lankan sevens outfit under Sooriyabandara settled well and fast at the Hong Kong Football Club (HKFC) yesterday. They held possession for most part of the game and never allowed the Chinese to attack. They did rotate the ball well, defended giving no gaping holes for the Chinese outfit to attack. Debutant Dinuk Amarasinghe justified his selection into the sevens squad with a super performance on attack. He scored Sri Lanka’s first try handing off a few defenders after Sooriyabandara did the hard work in the initial move. Sooriyabandara converted for an early seven to nothing lead. Sri Lanka who worked their line swiftly scored their second one through Sudam Sooriyarachchi who dummied two Chinese players to touch down under the posts and converted by himself. Sri Lanka took the short breather with a clear 14 to nothing lead.

After the turn around the Sri Lankan outfit showed good running skills plus top ball handling ability scoring three more second half tries. Sooriyabandara scored the third Sri Lankan try, while Buddhima Piyaratne and Kevin Dixon scored the last two tries to end the first game 31-0 untouched. 

Japan 21 - 0 Sri Lanka

Asian Games Silver medallist, Japan handed off Sri Lanka in a three-try blitz. The Japanese who fielded two Pacific Island players in their starting line-up looked a yard faster. In defence too they were rock solid. Sri Lanka tried their level best to score but failed. Sooriyabandara came so close to score but knocked it on yards before the try line. Japan who led 14 to nothing at the short breather scored one more try to end on 21 to nothing win. 

Kazakhstan Women 36 - 0 Sri Lanka Women

Sri Lankan Women showed less match experience and were thrashed by the Kazakhstan outfit 36 to nothing. In defence they were all over with huge gaps in between them. While in attack they dropped the ball knocking on several times unable to make the score board move. The team which last played at the Borneo Sevens in March this year showed match practice is more important than training with the squad only. 

Sri Lanka Women 17 - 5 Singapore Women

Sri Lankan Women showed better discipline in their second outing against Singapore defending and attacking well. After an unsettled start where Singapore scored first, Sri Lanka hit back sooner than later with a fine running try by Ayesha Perera. Scores stood at five apiece at the short breather.

After the turn around Sri Lanka scored through Dilrukshi Kumari and Thanuja Weerakody. Ayesha Kaluarachchi converted the last try.

Sri Lanka Head Coach Sudath Sampath, speaking to Daily FT, said: “We lacked Asian exposure having played the last tournament 6 months back in Borneo. All other teams in the tournament have played at the Asian Games plus other tournaments, at their peak. We need to have a second side as well to have a balanced outfit with experience, as well as youngsters to be integrated into the current team.” 

Men’s results

Sri Lanka beat China 31-0, Japan beat Taipei 22-0, Philippines beat South Korea 12-7, Hong Kong beat Malaysia 54-0, Taipei beat China 19-15, Japan beat Sri Lanka 21-0, Hong Kong beat South Korea 59-0, Philippines beat Malaysia 26-10 

Women’s results

Kazakhstan beat Sri Lanka 36-0, China beat Singapore 31-0, Hong Kong beat Thailand 22-7, Japan beat South Korea 48-0, Sri Lanka beat Singapore 17-5, China beat Kazakhstan 21-14, Thailand beat South Korea 24-12, Japan beat Hong Kong 31-7

Pix by Thusith Wijedoru