Chinese Taipei down Sri Lanka in low scoring affair

U19 Asia Rugby Championship

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Chinese Taipei juniors got their Asia U19 Rugby Championship campaign off to a winning start when they beat Sri Lanka 18-15 at the Municipal Stadium in Chinese Taipei.

Taipei outscored the visitors three tries to two, although they were made to work hard for this win as Sri Lanka fought back bravely in the second half; the Junior Tuskers were unlucky to miss out on a what would have been a deserved victory. Tries from Wen Cheng Lin, Cheng Kang Chang and Wei Lun Lin proved too much for the Sri Lankan juniors who scored through Ifham Fareed and Kalindu Nandila.

In a fast-paced and entertaining match, both sides gave the ball plenty of air although this match will not be used in coaching manuals as the two sides’ attacks left a lot to be desired. The momentum in the game went back and forth but it was the men from Taipei who got the rub of the green in the end and eventually outscored Sri Lanka.

It was a generally stop-start affair with handling errors aplenty and a lot of time squandered through scrum resets and line-outs. Taipei surprisingly dominated the scrum, considering the wealth of front-row talents at the Tuskers’ disposal.

The junior Tuskers had dominated most of the match but the game’s complexion changed minutes into the second half when the match started at a frantic pace with both sides running the ball from all areas of the field and that approach finally yielded rewards for the hosts.

Coach Dushyantha Lewke will be delighted with his side’s defensive resilience as it was a determined display against the smart hosts. However for Taipei, there will still be concerns about the line-out, which had seen them win only a fraction of their own throws prior to the game.

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The opening exchanges were evenly contested and it was the visitors who drew first blood courtesy of a Sean Gilgawey penalty in the fifth minute after Mohommed Shabeer infringed at a ruck. (CT 03-00 SL)

Both sides gave their all in a bid to gain the ascendancy although Taipei spent most of the next 15 minutes camped inside the visitors’ half. They were rewarded in the 12th minute when Cheng Kang Chang ran onto a pass from his center just outside the visitors’ 22 and set off on a superb run, in which he beat four defenders, before diving over in the left corner. The referee awarded the try although replays showed that Chang’s leg was in touch as he was grounding the ball. (CT 08-00 SL)

Gilagawey failed to add the extras but shortly after the restart, Wei Lun Lin was penalised at the breakdown and Ifham Fareed narrowed the gap through a signature rolling maul set up from a resulting line-out after Janidu Dilshan had slotted a monster penalty touch finder from the halfway line. Tuan Zamil missed the conversion as Sri Lanka trailed by 3.

The visitors continued to attack but despite creating plenty of chances, they were kept at bay by a resilient defensive effort from Chinese Taipei for the rest of the half.

Half Time: Chinese Taipei 08(1T 1P) – 05(1T) Sri Lanka

5 minutes after half-time, Tuan Zamil brought both teams into level terms with a penalty right in front of the posts after Himantha Hirushan did stellar work at the breakdown to effect the turnover. (CT 08-08 SL)

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Soon after, Abdulla Faiz was penalised for illegally entering the ruck from the side and Chang kicked to touch ten metres out from the Tusker’s try-line. From the resulting line-out, Taipei took the ball through a number of phases, exerting pressure on the Sri Lankan defense and were eventually rewarded with a try as Wen Cheng Lin’s superlative leg drive, drove him over the whitewash. This meant the hosts held a 13-8 lead.

This sparked a response from the Sri Lankan Juniors as they immediately upped the ante, taking the ball the width of the field and stretching the Taipei defence before Janidu Dilshan charged down the clearance kick which paved the way for Kalindu Nandila to dot down in the left-hand corner. Mubeen Faleel’s conversion made it 15-13 to the Tuskers after 58 minutes as the visitors gained the lead for the first time in the game.

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Chinese Taipei did not surrender though and struck back when Kang-Chang offloaded to Wei Lun Lin, who outpaced the cover defense before crossing for his side’s third try in the 65th minute. Sri Lanka were given a sliver of hope as the conversion fell short of its mark. (CT 18-15 SL)

The junior Tuskers tried their best to throw everything at the hosts, but they were smart enough to hold onto possession with a massive 25 phase count hardly gaining any meters, putting the game to bed finally as they milked a penalty from close quarters only to tap and put it out to earn a well-deserved victory.

Full Time: Chinese Taipei 18(3T 1P) – 15 (2T 1C 1P)

Score Breakdown

Chinese Taipei

Tries by Cheng Kang Chang, Wen Cheng Lin and Wei Lun Lin

Penalty by Sean Gilgawey

Sri Lanka

Tries by Ifham Fareed and Kalindu Nandila

Penalty by Tuan Zamil

Conversion by Mubeen Faleel