Last minute try by Sheng Tang of Chinese Taipei diminished the Sri Lankan hope that was re-incarnated after the Naveen Henakankanamage try as Taipei secured a 31-25 win in the final outing of the Asia Under 19 Division Championships 2016.
This encounter was a must win for Sri Lanka in order to stay in the top division and despite Henakankanamage’s try giving the hope of victory to Sri Lanka in the 68th minute, Sri Lanka failed to hold on the Taipei attack in the final two minutes.
Sri Lanka was playing after few of their key players were hospitalised due to feverish conditions and had a player short in their bench. With the humid conditions, play was reduced to 70 minutes with 35 a half.
Full time score: Chinese Taipei 31 – Sri Lanka 25
Under hot and humid conditions, Sri Lanka got off to an energetic start with their front row forwards anchoring the onslaught in the first ten minutes. #8 Nirosh Udayanga drew first blood from the efforts and Sandesh Jayawickrema added the extras. (0-7)
Chinese Taipei soon replied with a try using a set-piece blindfolding the Lankan defence as fly half Yi-Hsueh Shen crossed over for the try. Chih Sheng Wu kicked the conversion through to add the two points. (7-7)
Sri Lanka’s tactics in the breakdowns and the fatigue conditions affected their gameplay adversely as it ended up costing them another try. Chinese Taipei’s Chun Yen Lan picked the gap meters through the Tuskers forward pack to score the second. (12-7)
Just when things were getting even, it was Kushan Indunil’s offload pass that was intercepted by Sheng Tang who covered almost 70meters to score under the posts. Yi Hsueh Shen converted (19-7).
Sri Lanka got some consolation just before lemons as Sandesh Jayawickrema took the bold step of kicking a 45m penalty to cut the deficit to 9 points (19-10).
Half time: Chinese Taipei 19 – Sri Lanka 10
Chinese Taipei extended their lead in the first few minutes of the second half with an unconverted try off Cheng Yu Sung to extend the lead to 24.
The Junior Tuskers however had a better half as two tries came in quick succession off the three-quarter line. Romesh Priyankara brought the scoring spirit to the side with a try on the far left corner and shortly after it was Wajid Fahmy who scored on the opposite corner to bring Sri Lanka to 20 points in reply to Taipei’s 24.
When hope was diminishing, it was the Lankan speedster Naveen Henakankanamage who brought the winning spirit back with an individual effort try covering more than 70 meters to score under the post. Replacement flyhalf Ashwantha Herath missed the easy under the post conversion (25-24).
Sri Lanka getting the lead for the first time in the second half had two minutes of play to hold their ground, but the disappointing defence gave space for Sheng Tang to run through to score the winning try for Chinese Taipei.
Full time score Chinese Taipei 31 (5T 3C) to Sri Lanka 25 (4T 1C 1P)
It was a disappointing game from the Tuskers and even after their late come back, they failed in their attempts to hold on to the lead for two minutes.
Sri Lanka’s fate in the top division will depend on the result of the Malaysia vs Hong Kong encounter since Malaysia, Chinese Taipei and Sri Lanka have secured one win each.
Chinese Taipei – Tries by Sheng Tang (2), Yi Hseueh Shen, Chen Yen Lan, Chen Yu Sung
Conversions Chih Sheng Wu (2) , Yi Hseueh Shen
Sri Lanka – Tries by Wajid Fawmy, Naveen Henakankanamage, Romesh Priyankara, Nirosh Udayanga
Conversion and Penalty by Sandesh Jayawickrema