By Ranil Prematilake Reporting from Hong Kong
A lionhearted display by the young Sri Lankan side saw them script an inspiring 32 points (1 goal and 5 tries) to 19 (2 goals and a try) win over Philippines. The result gave Sri Lanka Plate honours (5th position) in the Asian Sevens Series 2017 – round 1 tournament concluded here at the Kings Park Sports Ground in Hong Kong on Saturday (2).
It was Philippines who opened scoring with a breakaway unconverted try. Sri Lanka replied almost immediately in the fast paced game with Tharinda Ratwatte going over for an unconverted try. The Lankans were down to six men for a couple of minutes following an infringement, which allowed Philippines to surge ahead 12 - 07. Opting to take on the opponents (comprising three foreigners) head on Sri Lanka reduced the lead to a mere two points at half time. An unconverted try by Kevin Dixon followed a yellow card against the Philippines.
After the turnaround an aggressive Sri Lanka planted four tries. Skipper Muthuthanthri returning from the bin broke through to score and was followed by a Naveen Henakankanamage special off a fantastic re-start. The third try in this half belonged to Buddhima Piyaratne, whose kick and chase effort was converted by Kevin Dixon. New kid Samith Dananjaya took to the blind side and slung out a pass for Kevin Dixon to do the scoring. Thereafter, Philippines scored a converted try at the death which only had an academic bearing on the final result.
Plate semi-final clash against Malaysia turned out to be a one-sided affair with Sri Lanka romping to a 45 points (5 goals and 2 tries) to nil victory, having led 26-nil at the breather. Tries by Kevin Dixon, Hirantha Perera (2), Dhanush Dayan, Naveen Henakankanamage, Tharinda Ratwatte and Jason Dissanayake rattled the Malaysians. Successful conversions came through the boots of Tharinda Ratwatte (2), Hirantha Perera and Kevin Dixon (2).
Sri Lanka disintegrated against China – a far superior physical outfit, in the Cup quarter-final clash early afternoon. The Chinese starved Sri Lanka of possession and sent the ball wide at any given opportunity. Three tries apiece in each half speaks for itself of the Chinese dominance in the game as they marched into the Cup semis with a resounding 36 points (3 goals and 3 tries) to 12 ( 1 goal and a try) win. For Sri Lanka BuddhimaPiyaratne took a quick tap and touched down himself. With that unconverted try thescores read 21 -05 in favour of China at half time. A semblance of hope arose when Omalka Gunaratne powered his way for a try upon resumption of play.Tharinda Ratwatte made no mistake with the conversion. However, it was one-way-traffic thereafter.
The Cup final was won by Japan who overcame hosts Hong Kong 19 - 12 with a last minute try.
Results of yesterday’s matches:-
Cup- quarter finals:
South Korea beat Philippines 17-12 (AET); Hong Kong beat Chinese Taipei 50 – 00; Japan beat Malaysia 44 – 00; China beat Sri Lanka 36-12.
Philippines beat Chinese Taipei 29-05; Sri Lanka beat Malaysia 45 -00;
Cup – semi-finals:
Hong Kong beat South Korea 22-17; Japan beat China 40-05.
7th and 8th play-off
Malaysia beat Chinese Taipei 33 - 12
5th and 6th play off
Sri Lanka beat Philippines 32 - 19
3rd and 4th playoff
South Korea beat China 14 - 07
Japan beat Hong Kong 19 - 12
Day One Report: Mixed fortunes for fighting Sri Lanka
By Ranil Prematilake reporting from Hong Kong
Sri Lanka surrendered a 14-05 half time lead against South Korea before going down 14-24 in their last group game in the Asian Sevens Rugby Series 2017 first-leg match played under lights at the Kings Park Sports Ground in Hong Kong yesterday.
The match of course got underway following a heavy downpour and three unanswered second half tries sealed the game for the Koreans.
The final score read 24 points (two goals and two tries) to the 14 points (two goals) of Sri Lanka.
With this outcome Sri Lanka will now meet China in the quarter-final scheduled for today (2) at 10.36 a.m. (SL time).
Sri Lanka started the game promisingly when Skipper Sudharshana Muthuthanthri outran his opposing number to fall under the post. Tharinda Ratwatte’s conversion was on target.
However, South Korea replied in quick time with an unconverted try. The Lankans pressed hard and Sudam Sooriyarachchi in a breathtaking solo effort covered nearly 40 metres to touch down deep in the right flank.
Tharinda Ratwatte curled in the corner flag conversion over the cross-bar.
The resumption of play had South Korea dominating proceedings with a flow of tries.
“Mistakes in the last three minutes cost us the game. It was there for us to be won,” said a rather dejected Peter Woods, Coach of the Sri Lanka Team.
“This is not what we wanted, in the last three minutes we missed a couple of one-to-one tackles. We will go back to the hotel and analyse our performances and comeback strong for the quarter-final,” Woods added with optimism.
Meanwhile, an eight-try blitz saw Sri Lanka thump Chinese Taipei by 52 points (6 goals and 2 tries) to 07 (1 goal) after leading 26-07 at the breather in their second outing.
Taking a cue from the earlier game, the Sri Lankans secured possession off the kick-offs and went a further step of forcing mistakes on the part of Chinese Taipei in the restart.
In the very first minute, it was Buddhima Piyaratne who accelerated before off-loading the ball for Dhanusha Dayan to touch down.
Tharinda Ratwatte made no mistake with the under the post conversion. Soon after, Tharinda Ratwatte in trademark fashion hit a gap to fall under the post for Sudam Sooriyarachchi to oblige with the conversion.
Chinese Taipei hit back with a converted try, only to see the Lankans score twice more before the breather.
First, fleet footed Buddhima Piyaratne set up a try for Sudam Sooriyarachchi which was converted by Tharinda Ratwatte.
Skipper Sudharshana Muthuthanthri followed up with an unconverted try in what turned out to be the last move of the initial seven minutes.
After the turnaround, a brace a-piece by Kavindu Perera and young Naveen Henakankanamage, with two successful conversions by Kevin Dixon and another by Sudam Sooriyarachchi saw Sri Lanka surpass the 50-point mark.
The two-day tournament kicked-off with the young Sri Lankan side confronting Asian giants Japan in their first outing.
Much to the surprise of an appreciative crowd present at the venue, Sri Lanka scored early through Tharinda Ratwatte who punted ahead and collected the loose ball to touch down.
Tharinda’s attempt to add extra points fell short. What followed was a five-try spree by the strongly built Japanese team fielding a few Fiji born players.
The tournament favourites Japan eventually triumphed by 33 points (four goals and a try) to 05 (one try).
At the short-whistle the Japanese led 12-05. Sri Lanka were found wanting in securing the ball (possession) off kick-offs and three of the Japanese tries (all converted) resulted from this basic error.
The quarter- final draw for today: Philippines vs South Korea, Hong Kong vs Chinese Taipei,
Malaysia vs Japan and China vs Sri Lanka
Results: Japan beat Sri Lanka 33-05; South Korea beat Chinese Taipei 43-07; Hong Kong beat Malaysia 31-00; China beat Philippines 22-05; Sri Lanka beat Chinese Taipei 52-07; Japan beat South Korea 33-10; Hong Kong beat Philippines 38-05; China beat Malaysia 54-14; Japan beat Chinese Taipei 38-00; South Korea beat Sri Lanka 24-14; Hong Kong beat China 26-07; Philippines beat Malaysia 26-00.