Sri Lanka’s sevens rugby team finished a disappointing fourth in the first leg of the Asian Rugby Sevens series held in China last week.
“We greatly missed the services of our regular captain and play maker Fazil Marija who could not go to China due to injury. This made the difference and we finished in fourth place,” said Manager Rohan Chinthaka Nanayakkara exclusively to The Nation.
“Marija is an unbelievable player who can overcome any situation, especially in overseas tournaments where our young players follow him and raise their own game. Probably with Marija’s presence we will play our very best rugby in the remaining series in Thailand and Sri Lanka that will enable us to bring honour to the country,” he said.
Japan won the Cup championship beating China in the finals by 28 points to 12.
Sri Lanka won both their group games beating Kazakhstan 24/12 and Singapore 43/0.
In the first game Sri Lanka beat Kazakhstan after having a slender lead of 12 points to 7 at half time.
Sri Lankan star centre Dhanushka Ranjan scored three tries, while scrum half Srinath Sooriyabandara scored one try. Fly half Dulaj Perera made two conversions out of four.
In Sri Lanka’s rout of Singapore Kanchana Ramanayake (2), and Gayan Weeraratne, Srinath Sooriyabandara, Anurudda Wilwara, Lavanga Perera and Sandun Herath scored one try apiece. The conversions were done by Sooiryabandara and Dulaj Perera.
In the Cup quarter-finals against Malaysia, Sri Lanka were very lucky to win as they played with one man less in the second half but ended up winning convincingly 31–10. At half time Sri Lanka led 12/5.
Captain Sudarshana Muthuthantri and Lavanga Perera were yellow carded for dangerous play.
Kanchana Ramanayaka (2), and Dhanushka Ranjan, Gayan Weeraratne and Hirantha Perera touched down once each for the Tuskers. Dulaj Perera converted three out of five tries.
Sri Lanka took on the hosts China in the semi-finals and were beaten 12/22. China had earlier in the Cup quarter-finals created a shock win beating fancied Hong Kong by 21 points to 17.
For Sri Lanka Sandun Herath and speedy winger Anurudda Wilwara scored one try each while Dulaj Perera goaled a try.
Once again the Sri Lankan captain Sudarshana Muthuthantri was sent to the sin bin.
Chinese who were enjoying a one man advantage sealed the match by scoring two back to back tries in the end.
Sri Lanka then lost to South Korea 7/24 in the play off for third place.
Winger Anurudda Wilwara scored the consolation try for the losing Tuskers which was converted by Dulaj Perera.
It was observed that Sri Lanka lacked discipline in this tournament with players being sent to the sin bin several times. Skipper Muthuthantri was the worst culprit having been yellow carded in the games against Malaysia and China.
Asia’s number one rugby playing country Japan proved where they stand when they beat China 28/12 to annex the Cup Championship title.
This is the first time that Hong Kong could not enter the final since 2011.
“Obviously we didn’t finish where we wanted to. China played extremely well. We weren’t as aggressive as we had been earlier in the tournament and they were more physical in the contact area. We made far too many errors defensively which gave them the opportunity and they took it. We know what we have to work on when we get back to Hong Kong,” said Gareth Baber the coach of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong took the “Plate championship” beating Malaysia 29-0 in the semi-final and then blanking Kazakhstan 27-0 in the final.
UAE won the Bowl championship beating Singapore 15-7 in the finals.
The second leg of the Asian men’s sevens series will be played in Thailand on 26 and 27 September.