HK 48 SL 03
- Asian Five Nations Rugby
By Milinda Gunawardena – Pic. By Ashan Perera
A far superior Hong Kong side totally outclassed a hapless Sri Lankan outfit yesterday in their Asian Five Nations rugby encounter at Longdon Place in Colombo on Saturday to register a comfortable win by 48 points to 3.
The local sides chances were hyped up more in hope than in faith and the early start at 3.00 pm local time – the hottest time of the day – appeared to give the hosts their best chance of putting up a good show. It took only around five minutes for reality to sink in as the visitors were clearly a couple of notches ahead of Sri Lanka in their overall game.
From the start Hong Kong did not let the Sri Lankans settle in and find their feet and it took only five minutes for the visitors to score their first try when it was scrum ball inside the opposition 22m. Fly half Keith Robertson displayed individual brilliance to put his foot out to control a bad pass from his scrum half and find a gap between the Sri Lankan Fly half and inside centre to score under the post. Robertson added the extra points himself to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.
Sri Lanka made too many mistakes at the break down from the start as they gave away easy penalties on numerous occasions which the Hong Kong team made good use of to add points to the score board. A few minutes after the first try Hong Kong were back in Sri Lankan territory again when they used their forwards to execute a perfect rolling maul to suck in the Lankan defense. Robertson fed the ball to his inside centre three quarter Lee Jones who hit the gap at speed to score and Robertson duly obliged with the conversion. With the game just 15 minutes old Hong Kong were leading 14-0.
Sri Lanka put their first points on the board when the Hong Kong no: 8 Pale Tauti was penalized for coming in from the side of the ruck. Saliya Kumara was on target with the kick which was right in front of the posts. At 14- 3 the local fans expected the home team to make a come back but the Hong Kong defense was too well organized to allow that to happen.
Close to half time the visitors added 8 more points to their tally with a try and an easy penalty put over by Robertson. The try was scored by winger Rowan Varty off a ruck on the blind side.
Hong Kong was not afraid to make changes and utilize their bench as some changes in the pack were made even before the breather. At lemons the scores read 22-3.
After the break the Sri Lankans appeared more determined and it took 15 minutes for the visitors’ to score another try courtesy of their replacement Scrum Half Tim Alexander. Alexander spotted a gap on the blind side as he picked up the ball off a ruck to sneak through for a try. The scoreline was now 27-3 and the home team had to act fast to save the game.
Hong Kong were furious in attack for the next couple of minutes as they managed to create a number of phases going forward and ultimately the tired Sri Lankan defense cracked and allowed inside centre Lee Jones to touch down near the corner flag. Tom McColl added the icing with a superb conversion. At 34-3 and with only ten minutes left the game was going away from the hosts and it was now simply a case of reducing the margin of defeat.
However, nothing went right for the home team as even the replacements couldn’t stop their heavier opponents. Hong Kong maintained the pressure and scored twice in the last five minutes of the game. They dominated the set pieces right from the beginning and when they were awarded a scrum on the hosts 5m line they shoved the home team to their try line for No: 8 Pale Tauti to touch down and McColl converted 41-3.
The visitors showed no signs of fatigue as Robertson capped an excellent game with his side’s seventh and final try. McColl made his third successful conversion and the final score said it all 48- 3.
Sri Lanka launched relentless attacks in the dying stages of the game but the visitors were equal to the task. It was a sad ending for the local team and they would have to do a fair bit of home work before the next match – a crucial encounter with Kazkhstan hosted by the latter. The loser of that game would likely face elimination from the top five.
The home team definitely did not play to potential and are capable of more although the skipper Sean Wijesinghe, scrum half Roshan Weeraratne, winger Nuwan Hettiarachi and Hooker Achala Perera worked tirelessly. For the winning team Robertson, Pale Tauti and the two centres had an excellent game.
Referee Taku Otsuki of Japan controlled the game well.