The Sri Lanka rugby union team breezed past Kazakhstan to take the opening match of the 2015 Asia Rugby Championship Division I, 35-14, and book their place into the championship, Wednesday afternoon, May 6 at the Philippine Sports Stadium.
The Sri Lankans started to push for the early try as they pounced on the opposing defense. At the seventh minute, left wing Lavanga Perera opened up the scoring with a try off a scrum, 5-0. Riza Mubarak, however, failed to convert from the left side. Five minutes later, Sri Lanka’s Kanchana Ramanayaka caught a wayward ball to secure possession. As they built up on the attack with a series of successful passes, Danushka Ranjan touched the in-goal area near the middle for the second try, 10-0. Unlike his initial attempt, Mubarak succeeded in the consequent conversion to pad the lead, 12-0.
The South Asians continued to dominate the possession and limited the chances of the blue and yellow team. A penalty was awarded to Sri Lanka at the 14th minute and the shot was easily slotted by Mubarak to boost their advantage to 15. The Kazakhs carried on with a strong run on the following play off a build up in the left wing, but was stopped by the opponents. The trailing team kept on attacking, until at the 28th minute, they were awarded a scrum. Serik Zhanseitov got a breakthrough try for his squad to cut the deficit, 5-15. Ivan Olkhovskiy made it 7-15 after getting the bonus in. A few minutes left in the half, and the leaders had another crack at the scoreboard when they were able to break free off the left wing defense. This led to Ranjan registering his second try off a pass by Fazil Marija. Mubarak successfully made the conversion and put his team way ahead, 22-7, at the half.
With the game on the line, Kazakhstan attempted to gain momentum at the turn of the second half. Both team shared possession with the Sri Lankans having a slight edge. At the 48th minute of the match, the Nomads gained the ball and attempted a try but was tackled by the defense. Ruslan Galiyev, nonetheless, was charged into the defense to score a try and lessen the gap back to 10. Olkhovskiy got the bonus to make a manageable 14-22 deficit.
That proved to be the third seeds’ last hurrah as the Sri Lankans managed to keep their composure. Kazakhstan was called for an infraction, that gave Dmithri Shehan a penalty kick that he converted to regain their double-digit cushion, 25-14. Kazakhstan’s frustration showed as they kept on fouling the higher seeds. At the 68th minute, substitute Dujal Perera connected from a penalty kick 28 meters from the sticks. With just the final whistle left, Sri Lanka put the icing on the emphatic win as Perera charged into the in-goal area for another try, which was successfully converted, 35-14.
Sri Lanka will take on Philippines, who won their match against Singapore, on May 9. The winner of the said match will take on the third place team of the top division later this year. On the other hand, Kazakhstan will test their mettle against Singapore to keep their place in Division I for next year.
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