Gutsy but smaller in size Sri Lanka youth rugby players offered a strong challenge to the bigger made opponents in Hong Kong before going down 15-29 in the final of the Asian under-20 rugby sevens tournament played in Johor Bahru, Malaysia last week.
Sri Lanka played their hearts out with a never say die attitude and played with only five players for most part of the game due to referee yellow carding two Sri Lankan players in this game.
This gave Hong Kong the advantage to form the overlap at crucial stages and thereby running out winners quite comfortably.
For the Sri Lankans, this year’s Wesley College play maker and wing three quarter Chamika Kusal scored two superb tries as well as St. Peter’s College vice captain cum centre Nishon Perera scored the other try off a beautiful three quarter move.
On the way to the final, Sri Lanka beat Thailand comprehensively with a runaway 31 points to 5 in the first game of the tournament. Sri Lanka skipper cum Peterite scrum half Kevin Dixon scored two brilliant tries along with winger Chamika Kusal, fly half Prince Chamara and Science College full back Supun Dilshan touching down one try apiece.
In the second game Sri Lanka took on the mighty favourites Hong Kong, who are ranked number one in Asia.
After a closely fought out affair where Sri Lanka were leading 19 points to 17 till the last move of the game, where Hong Kong scampered through for a winning try and finally edging out Sri Lanka by 24 points to 19 at the final whistle.
Former Wesley College and CR and FC flanker Sithum Peiris, winger Chamika Kusal and D.S. Senanayake College schoolboy Buddima Piyarathne scored one try each for the losing junior Tuskers.
In the final pool game of the day against Chinese Taipei, after a ding dong battle where the junior Tuskers had ample chances to becoming victorious, surprisingly in the end Chinese Taipei held Sri Lanka to a 19-all draw.
On the second day Sri Lanka thrashed the hapless UAE team by 33 points to 7 in the cup quarter-finals.
For the junior Tuskers Buddima Piyarathne, captain Kevin Dixon, Nishon Perera, Sithum Peiris and Prince Chamara gave a dazzling display by scoring one try each while Buddima Piyaratne and Kevin Dixon put over two conversions each.
After this fantastic performance the Sri Lankan team came in to the cup semi-finals and had a close game against the host country, Malaysia before beating them by 17 points to 12 in extra time.
The scores were deadlock at 12-all when the referee blew for full time.The man who carried Sri Lanka through to the finals was the unsung hero from D.S. Senanayaka College, Buddima Piyarathna who scored two magnificent tries and the latter was the match winning try in extra time. Lanky forward Sithum Peiris scored the other try for the Tuskers.
This dashing player from D.S. Senanayaka College Buddhima Piyarathna emerged as the top run scorer with 38 points in this leg in Malaysia where he has scored six tries to go along with his four conversions.
Po –Wei Huang of Chinese Taipei is the nearest player to Buddhima with 31 points inclusive of five tries and three conversions.
Incidentally, Bhuddima Piyarathna is also the tournament joint highest try scorer with six tries along with Hong Kong’s Jordan Cooper.
Hong Kong’s James Christie, Hugo Ho Ching Chui and Singapore’s Halcyon Quintin Salter Price held the joint highest top try conversions with five apiece.
Now the Sri Lankan team will fly to Hong Kong to compete in the second leg of the Asian Seven series, which is on 22nd and 23rd August.
The Tuskers biggest setback is the injury to one of their top players Chamika Kusal hence Isipathanian winger Asitha Punchihewa and Science College captain Lasindu Ishan Karunathilaka left the island to join the team in Hong Kong.