Saabir Cader reporting from Malaysia
Asia Rugby U19 Championship is perhaps set to have its deciding game on Wednesday afternoon. As defending champions Hong Kong take on Sri Lanka at 11am SL time in University Putra Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
Hong Kong won with ease in their first game over Chinese Taipei with a 54 – 08 point margin. Hong Kong will field 6 players who played in last year’s champion team and at the World rugby Junior Trophy in Zimbabwe this April. Hong Kong’s back play was executed extremely well in the first game. Captain Mark Coebergh started at fly half and moved to halfback in the second half and was brilliant as he ran in two late tries.
Hong Kong’s most influential player however, is their full back Matthew Worley who scored a try and converted six kicks with a 100% record. Worley has been training with the French giant Racing 92 in 2015 and will be in the academy for another year.
Hong Kong’s coach Peter Drewett’s speaking to the media “Sri Lanka will be a very tough test. They are very fit and will set us a massive challenge, Sri Lanka could prove the toughest opponent, with the islanders having been in camp for three weeks and acknowledging in the local media that they are working hard to overcome the Hong Kong hurdle. Drewett noted
Sri Lanka kicked-off their Asia under 19 Rugby championship campaign against hosts Malaysia…
Sri Lanka on the other hand had to fight hard for the win over the hosts Malaysia with an injury time try. Thanuja Maduranga the Science College center who came off the bench in the last quarter was absolutely brilliant and his try spread a pin drop silence in the stands. However, Sri Lanka lacked their usual flair on the field. Malaysia did not deserve to lose after having out performed Sri Lanka at every turn. Coach Nilfer Ibrahim stated after that nail biting finish “We didn’t expect Malaysia will give us such a fight” and he went on to say “the Malaysian forwards had the better of us in most set pieces and breakdowns.
It will be a different game as the forecast calls for dry conditions tomorrow. Ravin Yapa (St. Peter’s), Harith Bandara (Isipathana), Wajid Fahmy (Zahira), Zayan Sabar (Wesley) all played well along with the Science Duo Supun Dilshan and Maduranga coming off the bench in the first game.
Sri Lanka attack was a too flat despite Kushan Indunil making few breaks in center field. Sandesh Jayawickrama at 10 also did reasonably well but certainly will be a key player in tomorrow’s Hong Kong clash. Sri Lanka has loads of attacking promise but will need heavily fortify their defensive efforts. A defensive performance like that of the Malaysian encounter will certainly result in a hiding for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka will also have to work on their discipline and decision making in key areas of the field. In the 78th minute of last weekend’s game Sri Lanka was awarded a kickable penalty whilst trailing by just one point. The decision was made to take it quickly instead of going for points or touch and they eventually gave away possession. The Tuskers were lucky enough to score thereafter but clearly exhibited panic and a lack of game sense in the last few minutes.
The team management has spent time planning and preparing with video analysis of the weekend’s games and the players have been recovering well and are in a positive mindset going into tomorrow’s clash.
Watch Sri Lanka v Hong Kong live from 10.50 am onwards on www.thepapare.com, Dialog TV channel no1 and My TV from your mobile app. We will bring you the second game live on ThePapare.com from 12.50 pm onwards between Malaysia and Chinese Thaipei.
Starting XV against Hong Kong
Nikhila Gunadeera, Pandula De Silva, Zayan Sabar, Nirosh Perera, Janith Galpoththage, Adeesha Weeratunga, Wajid Fawmy, Shalindra Alahakoon, Harith Bandara, Sandesh Jayawickrama, Ramesh Fernando, Kushan Indunil, Supun Dilshan, Naveen Henakankanamge, Gayan Wickramarathna
Lahiru Godawattage, Aveesha Priyankarage, Andrew Yapa, Ashok Vijeykumar,Thanuja Malimbada, Udaya Pothupitiyage , Vageesha Weersinghe, Romesh Priyankara