Sri Lanka men secure 4th place, women secure 5th at Asian Sevens in Hong Kong

Monday, 25 August 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Sri Lankan Sevens rugby team under Fazil Marija ended the Asian Sevens series in Hong Kong by securing fourth position overall at the Hong Kong Football Club (HKFC) in Happy Valley yesterday. The women’s outfit won the Plate and retained their fifth position overall in the tournament when they defeated Thailand 19-14 in extra time. Hosts Hong Kong started off the 2014 Asian Series in grand style in front of about 5000 home supporters when they ran past a helpless South Korea in a one-sided Cup final. Hong Kong went on to score tries at will, winning 40-0. The Chinese women took the title by defeating the Hong Kong team 38-7. After the opening day’s two wins against China (17-5) and Taipei (40-12), the Sri Lankan Men’s team beat Malaysia (31-19) in the Cup quarter-final, lost to Hong Kong (21-0) in the Cup semi-final and were also defeated by Japan (42-12) in the play-off for the third and fourth place later on in the evening. Earlier in the day, in the Cup quarter-final, Malaysia opened the scoring in the very first minute of the game through one of their Fijian-born players, Rabibi. The third minute of the game saw one of the Malaysian players being yellow-carded. Using this one-man advantage, Sri Lanka moved the ball wide through Nigel Ratwatte and Gayan Weeraratne. But unfortunately the move was halted by the referee who judged that Gayan had stepped out. In the very next minute of the game Anuruddha Wilwara covered nearly 40 meters to touch down for Fazil Marija to add the extra two points to take the score to seven a piece. Two minutes later Wilwara, who had a grand game, scored his second try to take a 12-7 lead but Malaysia cut the deficit through a dandy try and took the short breather at 14-12, favouring Sri Lanka. After the turn around it was one-way traffic as Wilwara, Nigel Ratwatte and Dhanushka Ranjan scored tries for the Lankans while the Malaysians replied with only one try. Sri Lanka advanced to the semi- finals by beating Malaysia 31-19. Sri Lanka playing in the Cup semi-finals against hosts Hong Kong started off well with some tight defence till about the third minute. Hong Kong scored in the fourth minute of the game but Sri Lanka failed to score when opportunities were given. After the turnaround Hong Kong scored twice to run away with 21-0 win. In the third place play-off, Sri Lanka had no chance against the Asian heavyweight in Rugby, Japan, who scored five unanswered tries in the initial six minutes of the first half. Then came the only try of the first half through Dinusha Chathuranga to take ‘Lemons’ at 28-7. After halftime, Japan scored three more tries with Chathuranga scoring his second try of the match. Japan secured the third place and won 42-12. Securing number three overall in the Asian Sevens series will be vital as Japan is already playing in the IRB (International Rugby Board) World Series tournament. The second and third placed teams will get a chance to play in the Hong Kong Sevens qualification for the world-series tournament in March 2015. In the women’s segment, the Lankans, after the first day’s losses to Hong Kong (22-0), China (38-0) and Thailand (24-0), looked a yard faster on the second day, when they beat Singapore (26-10) and advanced to the Plate finals. In the Plate finals, Sri Lanka defeated Thailand 19-14, with the game going into extra time, to retain the overall fifth position in the 8-team competition. This is the second time the Sri Lankan Women’s team secured the Plate. Head Coach of the Sri Lanka Women’s outfit Chandrishan Perera said: “The girls need some more exposure in playing at high levels like this one in Hong Kong. We will need to settle down and take on player to player, without any fear of bigger-made players from the opposition sides,” he ended. On the second day, they played their hearts out. The next stopover for the women will be in the Beijing Sevens while they will hope to improve on their current ranking. Sri Lanka team Head Coach Setefano Cakau told the Daily FT: “The guys need a break. They are very tired after continuous tournaments for the last two months. We had a few errors to be sorted out and we will be ready for the next tournament in Shanghai.”