Sri Lanka win Plate in Hong Kong; Japan clinch Asian 7s 1st leg

Monday, 4 September 2017 00:26 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Sri Lanka beat the Philippines 32-19 to secure the Plate championship (fifth position) at the Asian Sevens 2017, which was worked off in Hong Kong at the Kings Park Sports Stadium.

The Sri Lanka Sevens outfit after winning the Plate in Hong Kong

Japan went on to win the first leg, beating the hosts Hong Kong 19-12 to keep alive their hopes of competing in the Sevens Rugby World Cup in San Francisco next year where Asia will be represented by the winner and runner-up teams of the three-leg event after the competition’s final aggregate is considered.

Earlier in the day Sri Lanka were beaten 36-12 by China and beat Malaysia 45-0. Overall, the two-day event saw Sri Lanka winning three matches and losing an equal number. After injuries to Ranjan, Dharmapala, Sooriyabandara, Fazil and Pathirana, the young outfit performed well on the Asian circuit. With experience and exposure at the Asian level they are bound to improve in the coming tournament in South Korea and Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka 12 points, China 36 points

Against China, once again the main worry for Sri Lanka was securing the kick-off ball plus the strong Chinese outfit being heavy and strong in their scrumming which resulted in Sri Lanka getting pushed back. Still the young and inexperienced Sri Lankan outfit played well. Buddhima Piayaratne and Naveen Heenakankanmge were outstanding in attack as well as in defence. The Chinese outfit, an improved unit, looked solid, with their passes to their teammates being flat and fast.

China scored first in the second minute when Tharinda Ratwatte opted to kick the ball out and take a lineout which was won by China who went on to score. From this point onwards they were unstoppable. China scored a brace with both tries being converted but a solo try by Buddhima Piyaratne reduced the deficit to 21-5. 

After the turnaround replacement forward Omalka Gunaratne powered his way through for a try with Ratwatte adding the extra points to reduce the gap to 21-12, offering a glimmer of a hope for a comeback. However, Sri Lanka’s hope faded away when China scored three consecutive tries to seal the game plus book their semifinal spot in the Cup after a longtime in the Asian Sevens.

Danushka Dyan on the attack

Sri Lanka 45 points, Malaysia 0 points

In Sri Lanka’s game against Malaysia, the Lankans powered their way to the Plate final with an eight-try blitz against a fresher-full Malaysian outfit which ran out of ideas. Sri Lanka looked strong, scoring through Tharinda Ratwatte, Hirantha Perera, Danushka Dyan and Naveen Heenakankanmge touching down once each to have the halftime score reading 26-0. Ratwatte and Perera were on target with the last two try conversions.

After the turnaround more tries were secured by Sri Lanka. Ratwatte, Perera and Jason Dissanayake touched down once each. Kevin Dixon converted two of them to take Sri Lanka into the Plate finals.

Sri Lanka 32 points, the Philippines 19 points

Playing in the plate final (5th place play-off) against the Philippines, Sri Lanka came back strongly after a close first half two-point deficit. The Philippines scored first but Ratwatte soon equalised through a try. The Philippines went ahead with their second try but Dixon dummied his way to score and reduce the gap to two points.

After the turnaround Sri Lanka scored through Muth, Muthanthri, Heenakankanmge, Piyaratne and Dixon. Dixon was on target with one of the tries. The Philippines scored in the last minute but it was too late for a comeback. Ratwatte was the highest scorer for Sri Lanka with 33 points in the tournament, having recorded three tries and nine try conversions during the event.

Naveen Heenakankanmge being chased down by a Chinese player with support coming his way from Kavindu Perera

Plate quarterfinals: South Korea beat the Philippines 17-12, Hong Kong beat Taipei 50-0, Japan beat Malaysia 44-0 and China beat Sri Lanka 36-12

Cup semifinals: Hong Kong beat South Korea 22-17 and Japan beat China 40-5

Plate semifinals: The Philippines beat Taipei 29-5 and Sri Lanka beat Malaysia 45-0

Seventh place play-off: Malaysia beat Taipei 33-12

Plate final: Sri Lanka beat the Philippines 32-19

Third place play-off: South Korea beat China 14-7

Cup final: Japan beat Hong Kong 19-12

-Pix by Sameera Peiris