The second leg of Asia under 20 sevens competition was concluded today at Kings Park in Hong Kong. The home team won the final beating Sri Lanka 36 – 10.
Hong Kong finished fifth in the first leg in Malaysia two weeks ago and as a result they were able to collect only 7 points. Sri Lanka became champs in the first leg and as the winners receive 14 points, the young Tuskers had a head-start for the second leg. Twelve points are afforded for the runners-up, while the 3rd and 4th places get 10 and 8 points respectively.
In the overall tally Sri Lanka accumulated 26 points to Hong Kong’s 21 points. Although Hong Kong won the cup title today, they onlyfinished third overall behind Sri Lanka (24) and South Korea (22).
With the confidence acquired in the 1st leg, Sri Lanka controlled day one of the second leg beating Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Malaysia but it was a very hard contest in the first game of day 2 against South Korea.
Sri Lanka 10 – 36 Hong Kong (Final)
Hong Kong came with a different strategy from the kick off and utilized most of it to gain vital possession. Their moving game, ballhandling and pace was too crispy for the Junior Tuskers who were totally outplayed. Sri Lanka had a few chances especially through Kevin Dixon who made some breaks with his goose-steps but he was unable to convert all these efforts in to points. Hong Kong scored three tries in the first half and two conversions and led 19 – 00 in the break.
Half time : Sri Lanka 00 – 19 Hong Kong
This is the first game where the Sri Lankans could not score in the first half as Hong Kong played a calm and composed game in defense and attack. The hosts extended their lead to 26-00 narrowing the chances for the Junior Tuskers to stage a comeback. The restart saw Omalka Gunarathne gathering the ball and dashing his way to score the first, but Hong Kong soon replied with another score.
Sri Lanka had little chances in possession and could not capitalize owing to the well planned Hong Kong defense. Taking two huge blows for the team, Shamri Burah concluded the Lankan chapter in the 2016 under 20 series with a consolation try as the hosts went on to secure a 36-10 win.
Sri Lanka 19 – 12 South Korea
This game was probably the closest of the tournament as Sri Lanka put-in a late charge to win. The Koreans scored the first try but a well-executed set play and communication between Reeza Raffaideen and Kevin Dixon saw the skipper touching down for the try.
South Korea hit back immediately with a try using their big forwards and sucking too many defenders opening space out wide. Just before half-time, the Koreans went to into the break with another try.
Half time : Sri Lanka 05 – 12 South Korea
Buddima Piyarathne ran circles around the Koreans to score the try on his own. Dixon made no mistake with the conversion this time to take the score 12 – 12.
The Koreans took so long to settle with the restart, the quick-witted Tuskers took the quick kick. Rehan Silva chasing, gained possesion and as a result Kevin Dixon managed to put down another try to take the lead in to 19 – 12.
In contrast, to the rest of the teams Japan who played their full strength in the first leg did not participate in the second leg. Sri Lanka hasnever beaten Japan and had that opportunity after leading 14 – 12 in Malaysia. But in that game heartbreakingly for the gallant Tuskers, theJapanese scored a last minute try to win that game. However, the Koreans beat Japan in the semi-final in the first leg assisting Sri Lanka to become champions of the first leg.
Hong Kong also played with their full strength teams in both the legs but things didn’t go according to plan for them in the 1st leg in Malaysia. However, sevens is a funny game and score margins can swiftly change from one match to another. South Korea was perhaps unlucky not to win the title in both legs as they had big and strong men in their team.
Sri Lanka made history winning the Asian U 20 tournament for the first time.