Sri Lanka clinch Asia Rugby Men’s Division 1 Championship with a dominant victory

Asia Rugby Men's Division 1 Championship 2024

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Asia Rugby Men's Division 1 Championship 2024

The final of the Asia Rugby Men’s Division 1 Championship took place on the 4th of May between Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan at the Racecourse Grounds in Colombo where the hosts Sri Lanka emerged victorious with a thumping 45-07 victory over the visitors Kazakhstan.

The game began slowly with both teams waiting till the other team made a mistake. Kazakhstan had a couple of chances inside the Lankan half in the opening 10 minutes but the solid defensive work from the hosts kept them at bay. The first score of the game came when Kazakhstan players made a disastrous error inside their own half when the forwards who were in front of the player who went for the clearance kick charged forward. Heshan Jansen took the quick tap surprising the visitors and  Tarinda Ratwatte who received the ball from Jansen went for a little grubber kick aiming the space on the left hand corner of the field and Mursheed Doray who was well aware of the next move from Ratwatte charged forward and easily got in front of the last defenders from Kazakhstan and touched down. Ratwatte unfortunately missed the conversion but Sri Lanka had the early lead in the final (SL 05 – 00 KAZ)

7 minutes later, Sri Lanka received a penalty for a high tackle and a good distance-gaining kick took the hosts back into the opposition half. From the line-out, the Tuskers tried to use the width of the field passing from right to left with Dinal Ekanayake managing to find some good meters forward with some lovely stepping. Sri Lanka quickly worked the ball back to the right side of the field as a well-timed last pass from Doray gave Adeesha Weeratunga enough space to sneak over the try line. Once again the conversion was missed Sri Lanka’s lead was in double digits inside the first 20 minutes (SL 10 – 00 KAZ)

In the 24th minute, Sri Lanka was once again back inside the opposition half but they lost a lineout which gave Kazakhstan the chance to get out of jail. Thenuka Nanayakkara who had other ideas produced a well-timed run to charge down the kick from the Kazakhstan Fly Half and there was no one in the back to stop Nanayakkara from touching the ball down for a 3rd try in the game for the Islanders. This time the conversion was successful from Ratwatte as Sri Lankans were with the advantage of the game big time (SL 17 – 00 KAZ)

Just 5 minutes later The Nomads once again gave away possession to the Tuskers after knocking the ball forward. From the scrum that followed, the Lankan number 8 Lasindu Karunathilaka took the ball out and gained some good meters before giving the ball out to Jansen who gave a quick pass out to Ekanayake who then passed it out to Akash Madushanka. Madushanka almost ran away from the Kazakhstan defense but got tackled thanks to a desperate tackle but he gave a perfect offload to Ratwatte the charismatic Lankan number 12 as he almost carried two opposition tacklers alongside him to find the whitewash. Ratwatte converted the try himself and Sri Lanka had an unexpected 24-point lead inside the first 30 minutes (SL 24 – 00 KAZ)

Just a few minutes before halftime Karunathilaka managed to force a turnover by stealing the ball from a Kazakhstan player but unfortunately, Sri Lanka couldn’t finish that turnover with a try as the ball was knocked forward inside the opposition 22m territory.  But the Tuskers managed to insert a lot of pressure on The Nomads with some top-notch defending as the opposition skipper Rasul Magomedov was pushed back deeper into their own half while trying to carry the ball forward from the scrum by Karunathilaka and Tharindu Chathuranga.

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The fly half of Kazakhstan who was feeling the heat from the brilliant defending went for the clearance kick and it just made out of their own 22 and Doray with a brilliant collection secured the ball once again in attacking territory for the Lankans. Jansen then didn’t go for the pass but instead went for the box kick over the Kazakhstan players spotting the gap and Ekanayake easily ran forward past the opposition players and touched the ball down for a 5th first-half try for the hosts. An outstanding conversion from the left-hand corner around 30 meters away by Ratwatte increased the lead over 30 for the Lankans at halftime (SL 31 – 00 KAZ)

HALF TIME  :- SRI LANKA 31 – 00 KAZAKHSTAN

Sri Lanka began the second half in style when Kazakhstan once again lost the ball forward inside their own half and most of the opposition players were committed to the left of the field. Sri Lanka had a lot of space in front and to the right of the field as Ratwatte sold a lovely dummy to fox the rest of the defenders making them think he was passing to Ekanayake on his right but instead gave the ball out to Jansen who ran straight towards the try line and jumped over the try line under the post with some showboating on display. This time Ratwatte received the easiest conversion of the day and he kicked it through without any errors (SL 38 – 00)

Sri Lanka with a comfortable lead to play made a lot of changes bringing in fresh legs and that sort of affected the Lankan momentum as it took some time for the players to gel once again. With the home team making mistake after mistake struggling to keep possession, Kazakhstan finally found their first and only try of the game through skipper Magomedov who overpowered the last line of defence of the hosts. The conversion from Abdrakhman Nazhibayev was successful as the visitors added two more points (SL 38 – 07)

For the next 17 minutes, the action got a bit rusty from both sides as the replacement players from Sri Lanka struggled to make an impact and the Kazakhstan players were struggling with fatigue and the conditions. The Nomads once again presented an opportunity to the Lankans by knocking the ball forward in their half. From the scrum, Sri Lanka decided to attack from the short side and Sachith Silva produced a scintillating run from the right corner of the field to go all the way. At one point it looked like Silva won’t be able to go all the way but how Silva stepped on the accelerator and ran away from the last defender was truly outstanding. Hirusha Nethmina converted the try quite easily (SL 45 – 07)

Sri Lanka tried to go for one last try to reach the half-century milestone but Kazakhstan who turned the ball over on the last move kicked it out as the referee signaled for the end of the game as the stands erupted and the celebrations began at the Racecourse . It was a clinical all-round effort from the Sri Lankan boys as they outplayed the Kazakhstan unit in every department. The defending was high class as a lot of people expected the Kazakhstan forwards to cause a lot of trouble to the hosts but the likes of Karunathilaka and Chathuranga had a huge presence which prevented the Nomads forwards from doing anything notable. The Lankan backs always had the upper hand but to display such prowess on the field in a big game like this for an internationally inexperienced side was simply phenomenal.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Sri Lanka in the fifteen-a-side format. The team looked brilliant but to improve and do better against higher-ranked sides they will need to play a lot more and train a lot more together. If that continues to happen, this won’t be the last time we see Suhiru Anthony and the boys lifting a trophy.

Full Time :- Sri Lanka 45 (7T 5C) beat Kazakhstan 07 (1T 1C)

Points Breakdown

Sri Lanka :- Tarinda Ratwatte 1T 4C, Heshan Jansen 1T, Mursheed Doray 1T, Thenuka Nanayakkara 1T, Adeesha Weerathunga 1T, Final Ekanayake 1T, Sachith Silva 1T

 

Kazakhstan :- Rasul Magomedov 1T, Abdrakhman Nazhibayev 1T