The second match of the Asia Rugby Championship division one will kick-off tomorrow at 11.30am. Sri Lanka will lock horns against the newly promoted UAE at Ipoh Padang, Malaysia.
The Tuskers passed the first hurdle over-powering the Philippines last Sunday with a 24 – 13 points victory. UAE on the other hand went down against the defending champions Malaysia 36 – 22. Although the UAE team consists mostly of expats, they failed to counter Malaysian-Fijian flair.
Last year in the division 2 UAE beat Guam 65 – 13 and thrashed Thailand 70 – 18 points. UAE played an enterprising game and they are slight favourites for tomorrow’s game.
Roshan Weerarathne’s team affected a valiant defence in the first half against Philippines but was a bit cracked in the second half. However, Sri Lanka has all the talent to overcome the battle requiring just a bit of smart play.
Tuskers forwards pushed forth an industrious work load and they need to repeat the same. Dushmantha Priyadarshana the Havelock’s skipper did well in particular as a front-row forward. Suhiru Anthony and Sharo Fernando did their jobs at lock, inexperienced loose forwards, Tarriq Salih had a good impact despite receiving a ‘yellow’ for sealing at the ruck. Omalka Gunarathne’s performance from the back of the scrum will play a vital role.
The half combination of Roshan Weerarathne and Fazil Marija is the most experienced asset. However, we saw Danushka Ranjan and Lee Keegel combining in the center field and later when Niroshan Fernando came off the bench Marija at 12 and Ranjan at 13 looked more attacking. However, Keegel made some brutal tackles and it is more likely he will start.
Hosts Malaysia will play Philippines soon after the Sri Lanka v UAE game. On Saturday Sri Lanka will be playing Malaysia at 1.30pm Sri Lankan time.