By Shamzeer Jaleel
Sri Lanka produced a pleasing performance to secure the Plate Championship in the Asian Sevens Rugby Series 2017 second-leg which concluded in Incheon, South Korea on Sunday (24).
The Tuskers rallied around magnificently and dished out some typical sevens rugby to completely annihilate Malaysia 41-7 in the Plate Championship final encounter which turned out to be a one sided contest.
This was also a repeat performance from the Sri Lanka Team as they were placed overall fifth in the first-leg of the series which was staged in Hong Kong earlier this month.
In Hong Kong, they had the better of the Philippines 32-19 in the Plate Championship final.
Sri Lanka got off a flying start as they managed to score three superb tries through Sudam Sooriyarachchi, Dhanush Dayan and Dhanushka Ranjan to lead 19-7 at half time.
Sri Lanka went on to consolidate their position and added the finishing touches in style with substitute player Hirantha Perera scoring twice in the second half.
Even then, Sri Lanka were under tremendous pressure going into the Plate Championship after having suffered a demoralising 12-31 defeat at the hands of Hong Kong in their Cup quarter-final fixture.
But they recovered well and went on to outplay the Philippines 42-0 after having led 14-0 at half time. Sri Lanka collected their points from six goals.
Naveen Henakankanamge and Jason Dissanayake did the honours in the first half while Dhanush Dayan, Tharinda Ratwatte, Dissanayake and Dhanushka Ranjan scored a try each during the second half.
Earlier, Sri Lanka’s hopes of making it to the Cup semi-finals were dashed when they were beaten 12-31 by Hong Kong in the quarter-final encounter.
Sri Lanka of course conceded three early tries to their opponents before Skipper Sudarshana Muthuthanthri powered his way to touch down and to reduce the deficit to 7-17 at half time.
However, Hong Kong dominated the second half with two more tries before Srinath Sooriyabandara scored a consolation try for Sri Lanka during the latter stages of the game.
Meanwhile, South Korea shocked Japan (17-12) in the Men’s Cup final while the Japanese Women’s outfit accounted for the Cup title when they edged-out the China 19-14 in the final.
(Group ‘A’): Sri Lanka lost to Japan 5-47, Sri Lanka drew with China 26-26, Sri Lanka beat Chinese Taipei 26-24
(Cup quarter-finals): Sri Lanka lost to Hong Kong 12-31
(Plate semi-finals): Sri Lanka beat Philippines 42-0
(Plate final): Sri Lanka beat Malaysia 43-7.
(Cup semi-finals): Japan beat Hong Kong 19-7, South Korea beat China 33-12
(Cup final): South Korea beat Japan 17-12
(3/4th place play-off): Hong Kong beat China 22-17
(7th place play off): Philippines beat Chinese Taipei 47-5
(Women’s quarter-finals): Hong Kong beat Thailand 19-15, Japan beat South Korea 53-0, China beat Singapore 31-0, Kazakhstan beat Sri Lanka 27-7
(Cup semi-finals): Japan beat Hong Kong 28-0, China beat Kazakhstan 17-14
(Cup final): Japan beat China 19-14
(3rd place play-off): Kazakhstan beat Hong Kong 24-7
(Plate semi-finals): Thailand beat South Korea 26-7, Sri Lanka beat Singapore 19-15
(Plate final - 5th place): Sri Lanka beat Thailand 24-12
(7th place play-off): Singapore beat South Korea 17-12.
DAY ONE REPORT: Sri Lanka finishes third in Group ‘A’
Sri Lanka experienced mixed fortunes on the opening day of the Asian Sevens Rugby Series 2017, second-leg which commenced in Incheon, South Korea on Saturday (23).
The Tuskers suffered a major blow when they went down 5-47 to Japan in their opening Group ‘A’ fixture with Dhanushka Ranjan scoring the solitary try in the first half.
But thereafter, the Lankans recovered well to force a 26-all draw in their second outing of the tournament against China after the scores were level 12-12 at half time.
Both teams collected their points from three goals and one try.
Even then, Sri Lanka enjoyed a close seven-point lead going into the last few minutes of play but conceded a try during the dying moments which shattered their hopes.
However, Sri Lanka went on to record a morale boosting 26-24 victory over Chinese Taipei in their final group encounter after the scores had been level 12-12 at half time.
Sri Lanka collected their points from three goals and one try while Chinese Taipei responded with two goals and two tries.
But Sri Lanka could consider themselves rather fortunate to pull off this game by a close margin as Chinese Taipei failed to add the extra points to their last try of the match.
With one win, one draw and one defeat Sri Lanka managed to secure the third place in Group ‘A’ and will take on Hong Kong in the Cup Championship quarter-final on Sunday (24).
Sri Lanka to be tested fully in South Korea
By Shamzeer Jaleel
The Sri Lanka Sevens Rugby Team under Sudharshana Muthuthanthri will take on the Asian rugby giants Japan in the Asian Sevens Rugby Series 2017 second-leg opening encounter at the Namdong Rugby Stadium in South Korea on Saturday (23).
Sri Lanka were placed fifth overall in the opening leg of the series held in Hong Kong where four promising youngsters made their sevens debut.
With the return of experienced players Dhanushka Ranjan and Chanaka Chandimal Sri Lanka will be determined to perform well and improve on their sevens rankings in the series ahead of the third and final leg which will be played in Colombo in October.
Ranjan, one of the most feared players in the Asian sevens circuit led the outfit last year when Sri Lanka ended second to Hong Kong.
Sri Lanka would need to get the better of China if they are to book a semi-final berth. A win against China and Chinese Taipei will see Sri Lanka meeting either South Korea or Hong Kong in the top four encounters.
If Sri Lanka finishes among the top two they would stand a chance to qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco, USA.
If Sri Lanka misses out a top two finish this year they will lose out the chance of competing in the Hong Kong Sevens 2018 as well.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Women’s outfit after performing remarkably well in the Borneo Sevens Tournament, winning the Cup title, would be hoping for a good run in this tournament.
Currently the Sri Lankan Women’s Rugby Team is ranked fifth in the Asian region.
(Men’s): Group ‘A’: Japan, China, Sri Lanka and Chinese Taipei. Group ‘B’: Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines and South Korea.
(Women’s): Group ‘C’: Japan, Thailand, Singapore and Kazakhstan
Group ‘D’: China, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and South Korea.
Men’s Tournament (Day 1 SL time):
Sri Lanka vs Japan at 7.14 a.m
Sri Lanka vs China at 11.32 a.m
Sri Lanka vs Chinese Taipei at 2.28 p.m
Women’s Tournament (Day 1 SL time):
Sri Lanka vs China at 7.58 a.m
Sri Lanka vs Hong Kong at 12.16 p.m
Sri Lanka vs South Korea at 2.50 p.m
Tuskers set their sights on South Korea Seated (from left): Rohan Chinthaka (High Performance Manager), Peter Wood (Coach), Sudharshana Muthuthantri (Captain), Asanga Senaviratna (President, Sri Lanka Rugby), Danushka Ranjan (Vice-Captain), Amali Nanayakkara (Group Chief Marketing Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC), Rajeew Perera (Assistant Coach) and Inthisham Marikar (High Performance Director). Standing (from left): Tharaka Vithanage (Physiotherapist), Sudam Sooriyarachchi, Chanka Chandimal, Buddhima Piyarathne, Danush Dayan, Jesan Dissanayake, Hirantha Perera, Tharinda Ratwatte, Omalka Gunarathne, Naveen Henakankanamge and Kevin Dixon
With the return of playmakers Chanaka Chandimal and Dhanushka Ranjan from injury, Sri Lanka would be hoping for a top spot in the Asian Rugby Sevens Series 2017 second-leg to be played on September 23 and 24 in South Korea.
The Tuskers put up an impressive performance in Hong Kong during the first-leg despite losing Ranjan and Chandimal due to injuries while winning the Plate Championship and they were ranking in fifth place overall.
Both players will be back for the second-leg to complete the 12-member squad and would join the ranks of Sudarshana Muthuthanthri, Sudam Sooriyaarachchi, Jason Dissanayake, Omalka Gunarathne, Naveen Henakankanamage, Tharinda Ratwatte, Danush Dayan, Buddhima Piyarathne, Hirantha Perera and Kavin Dixon.
The third and final-leg of the series sponsored by Dialog Axiata, would be worked off on October 14 and 15 at the Race Course Grounds in Colombo.