By Shamseer Jaleel
Japan won its second Asia Rugby Sevens tournament on-the-trot, defeating South Korea 45/7 in the Cup final at Thailand Sevens and poised to regain the regional crown from the defending champions Hong Kong.
Sri Lanka once again finished at number 4, a repeat of China Sevens. The question asked by the rugby loving public is, when will Sri Lanka get past the semi-final losing streak and feature in a cup final? The best way for Fazil and his boys to prove all wrong would be on home soil in Colombo when they host the third and the final leg of the Asian Sevens series at the Race Course rugby grounds on 10 and 11 October.
South Korea who beat Sri Lanka 27/0 in the semi-finals was no match for Japan in the final as they were hammered into submission by a side which controlled possession superbly and whose dangerous backs made easy work of most of the opposition apart from Hong Kong.
The cup victory following last month’s triumph at the China Sevens leaves Japan on the verge of being crowned Asia Rugby Sevens champions – failure can only occur in the unlikely circumstance of failing to advance from their preliminary pool at the third and final leg in Sri Lanka next month.
Hong Kong defeated Sri Lanka 33/7 in the third place play-off to be tied in fourth place with Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Head Coach Matt Turner speaking to media said: “We gave away the ball too much and some off-loads looked far below standard but the errors could be fixed before the final leg in Colombo in two weeks’ time. We need to focus on the mental side. Playing with a side like Hong Kong, we should have a good game plan and execute perfectly. It is also important to tire the big boys by moving them around.”
Skipper Fazil Marija said: “We need to focus our game and play as a team. Individually we have some solid players and we will succeed depending on how we click as a team. We were inconsistent in our approach. We can overcome all these in the final leg and want to put up a good show in front of the home crowd in Colombo and improve in our ranking in the Sevens series.
Sri Lanka’s performance at Thailand Sevens
Beat Taipei 36/0, lost to Hong Kong 14/33, lost to South Korea 0/27, beat China semi-final) 14/7, lost to Hong Kong 7/33 3rd place play off)