Sri Lanka ‘Tuskers’ go down fighting against Hong Kong

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Favourites Hong Kong won their 2nd Asian 5 Nations 2014 encounter beating the a tirelessly defending Sri Lanka by 41 points to 10 under lights at the resplendent Race Course international stadium Saturday evening. 

Hong Kong after their thumping 108-0 win over Philippines came to Colombo for another try fest but the tiny islanders played with big ‘heart’ in a spirited performance; an intriguing physical battle that left Hong Kong to work hard for their tries.

After the poignant pre-match national anthems and due introductions with the First Lady Mrs Shiranthi Rajapkse, Hong Kong fly-half Chris McAdam kicked off the match.

Hong Kong drew first blood in the 2nd minute with left footed place kicker Chris McAdam slotting an easy 22’ meter penalty-kick after Sri Lanka’s defense line was caught offside. (HK 03 – SL 00)

Hong Kong completely dominated the scrums with the Sri Lankan forwards failing to hold the strong Hong Kong pack as prop forward Leon Wei Hon Sum scored the first try of the match in the 8th minute after Sri Lanka’s own 5 meter scrum was pushed back deep inside the Lankan territory. Chris McAdam added the extra points. (HK 10 – SL 00)

Sri Lanka finally managed to get into the opposition 22’ meter territory after 10 minutes of play. 2013/14 Dialog Club Rugby League’s highest point’s scorer Nuwan Hettiarachchi attempted a valiant drop goal to kick-start the Lankan points tally but the ball ricocheted from the posts to the huge disappointment of thousands of passionate Sri Lankan rugby spectators present at new home of Sri Lanka Rugby. Nuwan Hettiarachchi was given a difficult 59-meter penalty kick in the 12th minute in a desperate endeavour to put points on the scoreboard but Nuwan’s kick fell short of the posts as scores remained the same. 

Hong Kong transformed their early pressure into points once again with 16 minutes on the clock as their fullback Thomas McCool scored an enthusiastic try in the far corner breaking through the Lankan defense. Chris McAdam missed the conversion. (HK 15 – SL 00)

Sri Lankan set plays were miserable as all their own line outs were lost during the first half. Hong Kong lost the possession of the ball in crucial times due to poor ball handling with higher humidity levels not helping the men from South China. Hong Kong wing three quarters; Rowan Varty and Thomas McQueen were looking dangerous around the fringes with superb speed and acceleration levels testing the cover defensive work of the Sri Lankan backs. 

Prop forward Leon Wei Hon Sum scored his 2nd try in the 30th minute of the game barging through a few defenders to score under the posts after several attacking phases were curtailed  by the determined Sri Lankan defense. Chris McAdam made no mistake with the conversion. 

(HK 22- SL 00)

Hong Kong scored the 4th and bonus point winning try on verge of the half time whistle with flanker Matthew Lamming scoring off a stunning driving maul worked off from a 22’ meter lineout which was unstoppable for the Sri Lankans as the heavy Hong Kong players easily bull-dozed their way around. Chris McAdam bisected the posts as referee Mohammed-Bin Azhar blew the half time whistle. 

Half Time: Hong Kong 29 – Sri Lanka 00

Fazil Marija restarted the game after the 10 minute breather. Sri Lanka looked positive in their approach and the boys were up to the task defending the marauding Hong Kong attackers ferociously and tirelessly. First 10 minutes of the 2nd half was evenly poised with both teams sharing possession with Sri Lanka securing the ball with their forwards using the ‘pick and go’ ploy to trouble the Hong Kong defenders. 

Hong Kong skipper Nicholas Hewson scored the first points of the second half in the 53rd minute of the game from a well-constructed try initiated by forwards-backs combined set move play to break through the Lankan defence. Chris McAdam added the extra points. (HK 36 – SL 00)

Sri Lanka line defence was quick on their feet to cover and elude the Hong Kong back line from gaining advantageous territory and strong defensive strategies applied by the Tuskers disappointed the visitors in the second half. Nuwan Hettiarachchi finally gave something to cheer for the fans as he fired across a 25 meter penalty kick in the 66th minute after Hong Kong defenders committed an infringement in a ruck. (HK 36 – SL 03)

Hong Kong players were surely surprised of the physicality and resoluteness by the Lankan Tuskers as the South Asian Islanders gave them more than they bargained for from the hosts as the second half was evenly poised with the likes of Srinath Sooriyabandara, Lee Keegal and Dhanushka Ranjan showing glimpses of brilliance. Hong Kong’s replacement winger Alex McQueen found enough space through the tired Lankan defence line in the 74th minute to score their 6th try to extend their unassailable lead.  Chris McAdam failed to bisect the uprights. (HK 41 – SL 03)

Last five minutes of the game belonged to the hosts as they played a stunning brand of rugby combined with flair to attack continuously and reach the try line and Sri Lanka’s new born star center three quarter Dhanushka Ranjan gazed past several defenders to score a memorable and morale boosting try in the last move of the game as a reward for the team’s spirited defensive work. Nuwan Hettiarachchi converted the try with ease as referee blew the long final whistle.

Full Time: Hong Kong 41 – Sri Lanka 10

 

After the game, victorious Hong Kong coach Leigh Jones shared his views on the win – “I’m totally not happy with the win as some game plans backfired. All credit must be given to the Sri Lanka Players for an impressive performance. “

Sri Lankan forwards coach Paula Kaho expressed his thoughts on the game – “We had lot to improve on our defense from our last week’s performance. I’m satisfied with our performance against the strong Hong Kong team. “

 

Sri Lanka squad:

1. Shehan Dimithri – Loose Head Prop Forward

2. Namal Rajapakshe – Hooker (Captain)

3. Terrence Henry – Tight Head Prop Forward

4. Sharo Fernando – Lock Forward

5. Suhiru Anthony – Lock Forward

6. Dhanushka Perera – Flanker

7. Yoshitha Rajapakshe – Flanker

8. Dushanth Lewke – No.8

9. Roshan Weerarathne – Scrum Half

10. Fazil Marija – Fly Half

11. Chamara Dabare – Wing Three Quarter

12. Lee Keegal – Center

13. Dhanushka Ranjan – Center

14. Sandun Herath – Wing Three Quarter

15. Nuwan Hettiarachchi – Full Back

16. Heshan Kalhara – Reserve

17. Hasitha Perera – Reserve

18. Dushmantha Priyadarshana – Reserve

19. Bilal Hassen – Reserve  

20. Sudharshana Muthuthanthri – Reserve

21. Srinath Sooriyabandara – Reserve

22. Chanaka Chandimal – Reserve

23. Dinusha Chathuranga – Reserve