Saturday, 4 October 2014 00:00
Sri Lanka’s Sevens team, led by Fazil Marija, were beaten 17-14 in a tense bronze medal battle against hosts South Korean, at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon.
Sri Lanka were previously defeated 40-0 by a superior Japan outfit, which held more than 10 of their nation’s top class 15-a-side players. This relegated Sri Lanka to the battle for a bronze medal against the South Koreans.
Japan won the men’s gold medal defeating archrivals Hong Kong 24-12 in a gripping final. It was the second successive time the two rivals had met in the Asian Games final.
The women’s final was equally enthralling as China held off a late surge from Japan to win 14-12 and claim a gold medal which had eluded them at home in 2010. Kazakhstan won the bronze medal defeating a Hong Kong - who beat them in the group stages - 12-0.
In the men’s competition, the Philippines beat China 28-21 to claim fifth place, while Thailand edged Chinese Taipei 12-10 for seventh place. Malaysia took ninth place after beating Lebanon 35-5 while Pakistan nipped the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the 10th spot with a 12-7 win over the rugby debutants.
Thailand hammered Singapore 38-7 to take fifth place in the women’s competition, with Uzbekistan edging Malaysia 12-5 to claim the seventh spot overall. Hosts South Korea beat Laos 34-0 to take ninth position in the ten-team women’s competition.
Speaking to Daily FT, Sri Lanka Sevens skipper Fazil Marija said: “We played really hard and as a team we performed better but it was very unfortunate we could not hold onto the lead in the end. Securing the kickoff ball was a concern once more. When you take the Asian Sevens this year we were only beaten by Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.”
Fazil added: “It would have been nice if we had brought the bronze medal home for the first time in Sevens rugby. We will give it our best shot at this month’s Beijing Sevens because we want to finish on top.”