Sri Lanka kicked-off their Asia under 19 Rugby championship campaign against hosts Malaysia at the UPM Sports center in Kuala Lampurearlier today, in a closely contested affair, Sri Lanka left it late with replacement Center Thanuja Maduranga scoring the match winning try during injury time to clinch a vital 27 points to 21 victory for the young Tuskers.

Overnight rains had made the conditions underfoot slightly wet but both teams showed great ambition and intent to send the ball wide and run down the opposition. From the onset Malaysia used their big made forwards to good effect utilizing them as battering rams to punch holes in the Sri lanka defense. Their fly half Zulfiqer Razali maintained the control of the game through his deep kicks into the opposition 22’ which kept the tuskers defense on their toes. On the other hand the backs for Sri lanka showed great promise and looked threatening whenever they ran with ball but were let down by some lose hands and indecisiveness at vital moments which meant the scoreboard remained untroubled.

Photos: Sri Lanka v Malaysia – Asia U19 Rugby Championship 2016

Photos of the Sri Lanka v Malaysia – Asia U19 Rugby Championship 2016

Full back Gayan Wickramarathne opened the scoring in the 15th minute, putting over an easy 25 meter penalty after the hosts were penalized for being offside.  Four minutes later Wickramarathne was on the score sheet again, this time as a try scorer profiting from some fine work by his wing Romesh Priyankara.  The ball was sent wide and the Josephian skipper had the speed and skill to evade his man before off loading the ball to Wickramarathna, who was present in support to touch down far left. The difficult conversion was missed but Sri Lanka led 8nil.

Sri Lanka v MalaysiaFrom then on things started to crumble for the visitors as they wilted under pressure exerted by the Malaysian forwards. Malaysia came storming into the opposition territory right off the restart and were all over a back pedaling Sri Lanka defense. Repeated infringements in the red zone meant Shalindra Alahakoon had to sit out for ten minutes after being shown yellow by the referee in the 24th minute. Taking advantage of the numerical advantage the Malaysians hit back immediately with prop Aquiel Zakariya barging his way through to score beside the posts. Fly-half Zulfikar Razzali put over the extras with ease to cut the lead to a mere point.

The hosts kept piling on the pressure dominating possession and territory and took over the lead in the 32nd minute through when one of their lock forwards who crashed through from close range for their 2nd try of the game. Razzali was on target with the conversion yet again as the hosts took a 14-08 lead.

The two tries rattled Sri Lanka who managed to keep things tight for the remaining few minutes of the first half and went into the break trailing by just 6 points.

Half Time: MALAYSIA 14 – SRI LANKA 08

Sri Lanka started the 2nd half quicker than their opponents and soon found themselves inside the opposition 22’. Replacement Hooker Zayan Sabar missed a golden try scoring opportunity as he failed to ground the ball on try line after his fellow forwards drove the Malaysians back through a well constructed rolling maul off a 22’ meter line out. However possession and the territorial dominance began to tell as the Sri Lanka forwards started to match up to their counterparts. Skipper Nikhil Gunadheera took things into his own hands as he brushed off the attention of a few Malaysian defenders to score off a forwards rush in the 54th minute. Wickramarathne was on target with the conversion as Sri Lanka regained the lead (MAL 14 – SL 15). 

 Both teams fought tooth and nail to take a firm control of the game but the pendulum swung back towards the hosts when Center and V.Captain Kushan Indunil was sent to sin bin in the 64th minute. Full back Mohomed Nazeer had a shot at goal off the ensuing penalty but his kick drifted wide. That miss didn’t deter the Malaysian spirits as they came storming into opposition territory through their rumbling forwards and scored in the 66th minute through their No.08. Nazeer was on target this time with the conversion. (MAL 21 – SL 15).

The junior tuskers rallied together and came up with some attacks of their own and after a considerable amount of pressure they succeeded in breaching the hosts defense with lock forward Adeesha Weerathunga going over for a try after some good work by his team mates. Fly half Sandesh Jayawicrama took over the kicking duties but his kick was off target as Sri Lanka trailed by a point. (MAL 21 – SL 20).

With time running out both teams were giving it their all, but the game was ultimately decided by replacement Center Thanuja Maduranga. Full back Gayan Wickramarathne and Ramesh Fernando combined to bring play into the Malaysian 22’ and after a couple of phases the ball was sent out wide to the Science College, Center who powered his way through to the try line. With the time closing up Sandesh Jayawickrama’s conversion attempt was just a mere formality. Jaywickarama converted to steal a win from a gritty Malaysian side right at the end.

Full Time: MALAYSIA 21 – SRI LANKA 27 Player of the match: Aqueil Zakariya (MAL)

Score break down

Malaysia 21 (14) – 3T, 3C
Tries: Aquiel Zakariya, No. 05, No.08
Conversions: Zulfiquer Razzali (2) M Nazeer (1)

Sri Lanka 27 (08) – 4T, 3C, 1P
Tries: Gayan Wickramarathne, Nikhil Gunadeera, Adeesha Weerathunga, Thanuja Maduranga
Conversions: Gayan Wickramarathne (2) Sandesh Jayawickrama (1)
Penalties: Gayan Wickramarathne