The first leg of Asia rugby under 20 sevens series kicked off today at the Pasir Gudang stadium in Johor Bahru – Malaysia.

Saabir Cader – Reporting from Malaysia

In the final game of day one, Sri Lanka played against the Asian power house Japan. Japan beat Philippines 40 – 00 and UAE 38 – 00 and Sri Lanka beat Philippines 22 – 05 and Thailand 31 – 05 in the previous games.

Sri Lanka, Japan, Thailand, UAE and Philippines were in group B while the defending champions Hong Kong, Malaysia, Chinese Taipei, Singapore and South Korea were in group A.

Sri Lanka went down to Japan 14 – 19

In the first two games, the junior Tuskers did not play as a unit and were unable to live up to potential. Some good tactics in the starting line-up saw power and compact rugby coming into the game. Tariq Salih displayed some great influence and physicality in attack and defense.

Reeza Raffaideen scored the first try with a brilliant 70m run from a turnover ball. Captain Kevin Dixon who had a terrible time with his boot, managed to curl in the all-important conversion. In the restart Rehan Silva was outstanding in the air winning and so many wins in the kick off were gifts. Nishon Perera busted through the defense to score the second try under the post as Dixon made two extras. It was a  dream start and just what the doctor ordered.  But Japan quickly capitalized on Sri Lankan errors to score their first try just on the stroke of half time.

HT : SL 14 –  17 JPN

In the second half although Sri Lanka were leading but some poor decision making cost them the  game. Omalka Gunarathne had a chance to score inside the try line but a valiant Japanese defensive effort denied Sri Lanka scoring. Japan hit back with another try under the post but they missed an easy conversion. (SL14 – 12JPN).

Photo Album – Sri Lanka vs Japan – Asia Rugby U20 7s 2016

Omalka made some fine yards breaking through defenses but his off load to Nishon Perera was a little too late as another chance went a begging. Sri Lanka just could not hold on to final 20 seconds despite some remarkable play. Japan scored a final try which was the nail in the coffin for Sri Lanka who had to wait another day.

Sri Lanka overcame the first hurdle over Philippines

Drawing first blood for Sri Lanka in Malaysia was Reeza Raffaideen who was assisted by Chamika Kusal. Nishon Perera got Sri Lanka the second try.

Chasing down the Philippines attack, the Lankan skipper Kevin Dixon showcased his class with a try off his individual efforts and with him kicking the conversion, Sri Lanka were up to 17-0 at lemons.

Photo Album – Sri Lanka vs Thailand – Asia Rugby U20 7s 2016

The second half saw Reeza Raffaideen scoring his second in the Asia series as Sri Lanka climbed to a 22-0 lead with few minutes on the clock. Philippines however came-off with a consolation try but could not prevent the inevitable.

Full time score 22-05.

Sri Lanka beat Thailand in a lackluster affair

In the second game the score depicted a convincing win but the Tuskers did not play as a unit. Reeza Raffaideen scored two tries whilst Nishon Perera, Kevin Dixon and Chamika Kusal scored a try each.

Photo Album – Sri Lanka vs Philippines – Asia Rugby U20 7s 2016

Meanwhile, Hong Kong had a poor start in pool ‘A’ games as they went down to South Korea 19 – 10 and lost to Malaysia 17 – 26. On the other hand South Korea too lost their first game 12 – 26 to Malaysia. Hosts look a strong unit and now through to the cup semi-finals and most likely will play Sri Lanka if the Junior Tuskers beat UAE in tomorrow’s game at 7.36 am SL time.

Japan will either play South Korea or Hong Kong in the other cup semifinal.

Sri Lanka v Japan

Sri Lanka v Thailand

Sri Lanka v Philippines