By M. Shamil Amit
Sri Lanka juniors went down in a closely contested game of the Singer ARFU JWRT Asian Qualifier rugby tournament against South Korea played at the Race course ground in Reid Avenue by just three points with the match ending in a close 31 points to 28 win for the Korean lads
South Korea who took a slender 24-21 lead at the breather accumulated their points through three goals and two tries as against to the four goals scored by Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka skipper Tarinda Ratwatte led from the front contributing 16 of the points that Sri Lanka put up on the board.
The Sri Lankans drew first blood in the very first minute with scrum half Sudam Sooriyaarachchi doing the finishing touches from a perfectly worked line out and with skipper Tarinda making the conversion the home side surged into the lead 7-0.
The lead was however short-lived and three minutes later the South Koreans relying more on their attack succeeded to penetrate the Sri Lanka defense which ended in scrum half Sangho Ahn going for a try and full back Gumin Han adding the extra points.
From there on the South Koreans had the home side under tremendous pressure and in the 14th minute they went into the lead with skipper and centre Daehwan Kim’s try and with Guman Han making no mistake with the conversion. Sri Lanka undeterred made sporadic moves and in a melee near their opponents line centre Sanchana Shiek rolled over for an under the posts try giving his skipper Tarinda an easy kick at goal.
The game was turning out to be a ding dong battle with the two sides exchanging the lead. With the scores level at 14 each, the South Koreans took over the lead in the 22nd minute from an unconverted try coming from No 8 Imuk Choi.
Three minutes later Sri Lanka struck again to grab the lead with full back Nimshan Jayawardena’s try and Tarinda’s conversion with the score in favour of Sri Lanka 21-19.
Five minutes from thereon Korea’s No 8 Imuk Choi went over for his second try of the match and though the conversion was fluffed they took back the lead at 24-21 which stood score at the breather. The resumption was expected to be another closely contested affair and with both the sides holding on to a stubborn defence there was no scoring for a long period.
The scoring came after 23 minutes of the session with Sri Lanka skipper Tarinda Ratwatte going over for a try initiated off a five metre scrum and with Ratwatte himself making the conversion the Sri Lankans surged ahead to a four point lead 28-24.
South Korea’s attack was their main weapon and with their perfect combination prop forward Hojin Sung almost took them close to victory with an under the posts try and with Gumin’s kick at goal being accurate saw them holding on to a 31-28 win.
Sri Lanka will play their second match against Hong Kong on September 24 at 4.30 p.m. while South Korea will lock horns with Chinese Taipei at 2.30 p.m.
Referee – Tim Baker (Hong Kong)