By Shamseer Jaleel
Hong Kong beat Asian Rugby giants Japan 19-14 in the third leg of the Asian Sevens played at the racecourse rugby grounds.
Sooriyabandara on the attack with Reza Rafaideen coming in with support
With this win both Japan and Hong Kong secured their berth at next year’s Hong Kong Sevens 2018 and as the Asian qualifiers for the Sevens Rugby World Cup 2018 which will be played in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka finished the third leg in third position, beating South Korea in the play-off. It was champagne rugby played by the top Asian rugby teams over the last two days. Unfortunately, continued heavy rain in Colombo did not help the playfield at the racecourse rugby stadium which resembled a paddy field.
In the women’s segment, Japan stamped their class for the third time in the Asian series while the Sri Lankan women finished sixth in the tournament.
Sri Lanka, playing in the cup quarterfinals, beat the Malaysian outfit, which fielded two Fijians in their starting line-up. Although Malaysia scored first, Jason Dissanayake responded by diving over for a try for the Sri Lankans. With the scores tied at 5-5 after the first half, Sri Lanka broke free in the latter half, scoring through Ratwatte, Ranjan and Danushka Dyan. Dixon, who came in as a last-minute replacement for Sudam Sooriyarachchi, was on target with the final conversion kick.
Japan women's skipper makes a brave move against Sri Lanka's women's outfit
Playing the semi-final (Cup) for the first time this year in the Asian Sevens 2017, Sri Lanka began on a negative note when skipper Sudharshana Muthuthanthri failed to clear the ball, which ended up producing the first try for Hong Kong. This opened up the floodgates as Hong Kong scored back-to-back tries to grab a 19-0 lead. But Dhanushka Ranjan displayed individual brilliance, as he dodged several defenders to touch down and have the score reading 19-5 at the end of the first half.
After the turnaround, Hong Kong stood strong when they scored one converted try but Sri Lanka replied with one of their own through Sooriyabandara, which Tharinda Ratwatte converted for the extra two points.
In the playoff for third place, Sri Lanka played cohesive rugby as they downed the fancied Koreans and dashed their Rugby World Cup qualification hopes with a magnificent 22-5 win. Richard Dharmapala and Ranjan scored tries to take Sri Lanka to 12 points while the Koreans replied with one try of their own. After the turnaround Sri Lanka scored through Dharmapala and debutant Reza Rafaideen, to seal the game and clinch third position in Colombo.
Sri Lanka, who finished fifth in the first and the second leg of the series, ended the competition placed fourth behind Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea. Ranjan scored 30 points while his club mate Dharmapala contributed with 25 points in the Colombo leg.
Separately, Sri Lanka Rugby honoured more than 30 past players who had rendered yeoman rugby service to the country.
- Cup quarterfinals: Japan beat China 26-12, South Korea beat Philippines 17-12, Hong Kong beat Taipei 50-0 and Sri Lanka beat Malaysia 22-5
- Cup semifinal: Japan beat South Korea 15-10 and Hong Kong beat Sri Lanka 26-12
- Plate semifinals: The Philippines beat China 26-10 and Malaysia beat Taipei 12-0
- Plate final: The Philippines beat Malaysia 19-17
- Seventh place playoff: China beat Taipei 22-7
- Third place playoff: Sri Lanka beat South Korea 22-5
- Cup Final: Hong Kong beat Japan 19-14
- Cup quarterfinals: Japan beat Singapore 27-0, China beat South Korea 34-0, Thailand beat Hong Kong 12-7 and Kazakhstan beat Sri Lanka 10-0
- Cup semifinals: Japan beat Kazakhstan 12-10 and China beat Thailand 15-12
- Plate semifinal: Sri Lanka beat Singapore 34-5 and Hong Kong beat South Korea 29-0
- Plate final: Hong Kong beat Sri Lanka 12-5
- Seventh place: Singapore beat South Korea 15-0
- Third place: Kazakhstan beat Thailand 22-5
- Cup finals: Japan beat China 10-5