Wounded Sri Lanka thrash Philippines to take third place
Despite being hampered by injuries to three players in Adeesha Weeratunga (head), Gayan Weeraratne (hamstring) and Kavindu Perera (shoulder) during the game itself, a compact Sri Lanka crushed Philippines by 40 points (six tries, five conversions) to 12 (2tries, 1 conversion) here in Happy Valley, Hong Kong yesterday to claim third place in the first leg of the Asian Sevens Series 2018. Japan defeated Hong Kong 12- nil in the Cup final.
Naveen Henakankanamage touched down within the first two minutes of play to give Sri Lanka the perfect start. Thereafter Sudam Sooriyarachchi crossed the line. Srinath Sooriyabandara obliged with both conversions.
Philippines managed to reduce the lead through a converted Donald Coleman try. Sri Lanka responded in no time when swift ball handling saw Dinuk Amarasinghe amble over the try line for Sudam Sooriyarachchi to add the extra points.
Sri Lanka’s 21-7 half time lead was reduced through an unconverted Philippine try. Thereafter Danush Dayan showed great presence of mind to sell a dummy and plant a try. As if not to be outdone, Buddhima Piyaratne followed suit blazing through the opponent’s defence. Kevin Dixon made no mistake with the ensuing conversions. The game already sealed, skipper Srinath Sooriyabandara scored another, Sri Lanka’s sixth try.
Earlier on, using the physical advantage to the maximum, Hong Kong once again turned out to be the nemesis of Sri Lanka, as the host nation recorded a comfortable 31 points (5 tries, 3 conversions) to nil win in the second Cup Championship semi-final. Having led 14- nil at the breather, the Asian Games gold medalists had little trouble in brushing aside the Sri Lankan challenge.
Sri Lanka booked its berth in the Cup Championship semi-finals with an impressive 33 points (5 tries, 4 conversions) to 12 (2 tries, 1 conversion) win over Chinese Taipei in the morning. A new-look starting lineup featured Adeesha Weeratunga, Reeza Raffaideen and Kevin Dixon. A brace by young Dinuk Amarasinghe midway into the initial half virtually took the game away from Taipei. It was Piyaratne who touched down first on a humid morning as Sri Lanka dominated the first seven minutes of play collecting 21 points whilst conceding none. After the turnaround a spirited Chinese Taipei planted back to back tries, one of which was converted, only to see Sri Lanka regain the momentum with another couple of tries. Danush Dayan and Naveen Henakankanamage put the finishing touches to moves initiated by a jinxing Kevin Dixon. Sudam Sooriyarachchi obliged with one conversion whilst Dixon was on target with three.
Women take Plate
A resurgent Sri Lanka women’s team took Plate honours defeating Thailand 22-10 in the final. The event saw the birth of a new star for Sri Lankan women’s rugby in Dulani Pallikondage, who scored tries either side of the halves using her blistering pace. Another couple of tries by Theekshana Liyanage, one of which was converted by Ayesha Kaluarachchi ensured that Sri Lanka repeated its performance three years ago at the same venue. It was apparent that Sri Lanka was relying on the speed of Pallikondage and at every given opportunity opted to move the ball wide, which in the end brought the desired result.
The day got underway on a rather slumber note when Sri Lanka women’s team was completely outplayed by China 36-0, ending the glimmer of hope of qualifying for the Cup Championship. However, in a nail-biting Plate semi-final against South Korea, the Sri Lankan lasses prevailed 21-15. A couple of tries by Pallikondage, converted by Ayesha Kaluarachchi had Sri Lanka in a comfortable lead. South Korea pulled one back on the brink of half time and followed up with another two tries in the second half all of which were unconverted to lead 15-14. With the game as good as gone, Sri Lanka with possession moved deep from its territory and Wasana Weerakkody broke free to cover over 50 metres to score under the posts. The accurate conversion by Thanuja Weerakkody signalled the end of the game.
- China beat Sri Lanka 36-00; Kazakhstan beat Singapore 24-10; Japan beat Thailand 31-00; Hong Kong beat South Korea 34-00;
- Plate Semi-finals: Sri Lanka beat South Korea 21-15; Thailand beat Singapore 19-05
- Cup Semi-finals: Japan beat Kazakhstan 21-15; China beat Hong Kong 19-14.
- 7th/8th Playoff: Singapore beat South Korea 27-00.
- Plate Final: Sri Lanka beat Thailand 22-10.
- 3rd/4th Playoff: Kazakhstan beat Hong Kong 14-05.
- Cup Final: Japan beat China 12 -07.
- Japan beat China 33-14; Sri Lanka beat Chinese Taipei 33-12; Hong Kong beat Philippines 42-07; Malaysia beat South Korea 26-19.
- Plate Semi-finals: China beat Malaysia 28-24; Chinese Taipei beat South Korea 40-05.
- Cup Semi-finals: Japan beat Philippines36-05; Hong Kong beat Sri Lanka 31-00;
- 7th/8th Playoff: South Korea beat Malaysia 28-14.
- Plate Final: China beat Chinese Taipei 15-07.
- 3rd/4th Playoff: Sri Lanka beat Philippines 40-12
- Cup Final: Japan beat Hong Kong 12-00.
(By Ranil Prematilake in Hong Kong)