Sri Lanka beat Philippines to finish second


Flanker Jason Dissanayake scored two crucial tries for Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka finished second in the Asian Rugby Championship despite a thrilling 25 (3-tries, 2-conversions, 2-penalties) – 21 (2-tries, 1-conversions, 3-penalties) win over Philippines in Malaysia yesterday. Meanwhile the hosts emerged champions of this tournament as they defeated Singapore 40-13.

Sri Lanka having lost to Malaysia in the previous encounter were under pressure to beat Philippines in the third and final match, and they made a couple of changes to the starting line up bringing in experienced fly half Chanaka Chandimal and number eight Buwaneka Udangamuwa with Bhanuka Nanayakkara and Omalka Gunaratne making room for them.

They were desperate to win the match from the first moment, but found themselves trailing just three minutes from the kickoff as Philippines were given an early lead of 3-0 by fly half Oliver Saunders who put over a penalty in the third minute of the match.

Seven minutes later Sri Lanka leveled the scores with a penalty from full back Rizah Mubarak which gave them the momentum to dominate the rest of first half.

In the 12th minute Sri Lanka extended their lead with a try from centre Kanchana Ramanayake. The CR youngster who made Sevens debut last year proved his capabilities in the fifteen-a-side rugby with a brilliant finish and Mubarak’s conversion meant they took 10-3 lead.

Within the next ten minutes both the place kickers added three points through penalty kicks as Sri Lanka preserved seven-point lead at 13-6.

However, Philippines struck back in the 30th minute as they sent wing three quarter Harrison Blake to score their first try of the match, but Saunders fail to add extra points on this occasion which kept Sri Lanka still ahead with a lead of two points.

One man who consistently performed well for Sri Lanka in this tour was flanker Jason Dissanayake. Having already scored for Sri Lanka in their opening match against Singapore which they won 33-17, the lanky CR forward touched down twice proving that he belongs to this level.

His first try scored late in the 38th minute and helped Tuskers gain a half time lead of 20-11 following Mubarak’s conversion.

Philippines despite conceding a nine-point lead came out strongly in the second half playing really well which resulted in a try 20 minutes from the resumption. Number eight Terrence Carroll who was one of their best performers in the tournament crossed the white wash and Saunder’s conversion saw them closing the gap to 20-18.

Sri Lanka who had been on top for so long was trailing again with just sevens minutes from the final whisitle when Saunders fired in a penalty in the 73rd minute which had put Philippines on a great position to win the match.

However, Dissanayke like he did in the first half, scored late in the second half sealing Sri Lanka a thrilling win. (JS)

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