The deciding final of the Asia Rugby Championship (ARC) – division one, will be played at Ipoh Palang, in Malaysia this Saturday at 1.30pm SL time.
Sri Lanka beat Philippines 24 – 13 and UAE 33 -17 in the previous games and as expected will have the hosts Malaysia in the deciding promotional battle for Asia’s top flight next year. Malaysia on the other hand won their two games convincingly over UAE 36 – 22 and 40 – 08 points to Philippines.
The winner will play Hong Kong and South Korea on home and away tests next year. This year is also a qualifier tournament on the pathway to Rugby World Cup 2019, whereby the tournament winner will be promoted to the Asia Rugby Championship next year for a shot at the subsequent Rugby World Cup Repechage round.
Kandy SC center and Sri Lanka 7s captain Danushka Ranjan who made two solo tries in the previous two games will be sidelined. During the UAE match on Wednesday, his dive over the try line caused him trouble on his right shoulder. Therefore, this will become a major blow for Roshan Weerarathne’s men as the Tuskers will miss his scintillating moves.
Malaysia’s Jone Nasalo who has scored three tries is in a fine form, the Fijian center was threatening in attack in the previous two games that they played. However, to counter that in defence, Lee Keegel has been brutal thus far.
Fazil Marija will start at first five-eight and either Richard Dharmapala or Jason Dissanayake will pair up with Keegel at the center. Dharmapala played at right wing and Dissanayake started at blind side flanker in the previous two games. Having Niroshan Fernando and Chanaka Chandimal on the bench could perhaps help the cause as Marija can be moved to no 12.
“If we play up-front like the last game and play smart I’m sure we can beat the hosts” Inthi Marikar the High-Performance Director of Sri Lanka Rugby stated to ThePapare.com.
Full back Thilina Wijesinghe is the current top points scorer with a tally of 29 (2C, 7P) in this tournament, although he missed a few kicks his work-rate was phenomenal. His combination with Dharmapala saw an elusive attack. Meanwhile, Sashan Mohamed will don his Tuskers shirt for the first time and will sit on the bench for his chance.
“I missed a few kicks in the UAE game the wind made it a bit difficult as well, but we did well in that game especially the second half, we hope to continue the same momentum which we had on Wednesday” Wijesinghe told ThePapare.com
The set-piece was appalling in the last game against UAE especially with the lineouts. Prasath Madusanka and the veteran Asoka Jayalal’s lineout throwswere off the mark. Suhiru Anthony and Sharo Fernando’s lock combination made a huge influence but both need to be careful with inevitably on their yellow cards, as both have been in the naughty chair once in the previous games. Tuskers cannot afford a numerical advantage to Malaysia who look favourites to defend their title.
However, the Tuskers will fine-tune their basics and play some running rugby.