The first leg of Asia Rugby Championship (ARC) division one kicked off today at Ipoh, Malaysia. Sri Lanka rugby’s Tuskers led the game 11 points to 00 at the half time and went on to win their first game with 24 – 13 points.
The first quarter of the game was well capitalized in terms of possession by Sri Lanka but they conceded too many penalties at the breakdown. Philippines ‘Volcanoes’ had some expatriates’ in their team but the Tuskers made some industrious efforts in the defence. Kandy sports club full back Thilina Wijesinghe put the first points on the board with a 30m penalty. (Sri Lanka 03 – 00 Philippines)
In the 14th minute Navy SC center Lee Keegel made a solid tackle and the resulting turnover gave Richard Dharmapala the option to send the ball out wide. Instead he opted the chip just outside the opposite 22m and a try scoring opportunity was missed. However, it didn’t take so long for the national rugby sevens captain Danushka Ranjan to score the first try. Wijesinghe missed the conversion (Sri Lanka 08 – 00 Philippines)
CR&FC’s Taariq Salih another debutant made his presence felt with some good tackles. But the flanker received his first warning for going off-feet at the ruck. He was later sin-binned for doing the same at the 30th minute. Wijesinghe extended the Tuskers points with a penalty kick just before the half time. (Sri Lanka 11 – 00 Philippines).
The Volcanoes had a few chances to score through the uprights but they missed three kicks which they could have converted in to points and given themselves the numerical advantage.
HT : Sri Lanka 11 (1T 2P) – Philippines 00
It was a sloppy start after the break and the Tuskers just gave away the territorial advantage due to handling errors. Philippines had a lineout in the Sri Lanka’s red zone but could not execute the possession. Sri Lanka at the receiving end made some valiant defence inside their 22m.
It took 60 minutes for the Volcanoes to put the first points on the board through a penalty. Sri Lanka with the restart, won a penalty and Wijesinghe made no mistakes to milk the points. Wijesinghe continued his form from the Dialog rugby league; he made the first assist with a peach of a cross-field kick to Nishon Perera at the wing. Perera carried for 30m and off-loaded to the supportive runner Roshan Weerarathne. The skipper did not have enough gas to score the try as he fell 5m short after a desperate chase by Volcanoes full back. However, Richard Dharmapala was there in a flash to pick the ball and dive over the whitewash. Wijesinghe added the extras (Sri Lanka 18 – 03 Philippines)
Sri Lanka had a real issue with their scrum engagements and controlling from the beginning. Going in to the last 10minutes, the Tuskers defensive line cracked and the Volcanoes showed hunger to score more points. They scored back to back tries, first one in the 73rd minute and the second in the 76th minute. The Volcanoes indiscipline at defence resulted in two converted penalties by Wijesinghe. (Sri Lanka 24 – 13 Philippines)
FT : Sri Lanka 24 (2T 1C 4P) – Philippines 13 (2T 1P)
“We could have done better, we struggled in the scrum we had only a two weeks prep, we will review the match video and will come back strong for the next game” Fereti Verebula – Sri Lanka Rugby Head Coach
Points Scorers :
Sri Lanka : Danushka Ranjan 1T, Richard Dharmapala 1T, Thilina Wijesinghe (4P 1C)
Philippines : Justin Coveny 1T, Ricky Cucia 1T, Benjamin Mudie 1P