With the recent under 20 sevens team flying back as a triumphant outfit clinching the Asian Sevens title, the Under 18 boys followed in hot pursuit in a hotly contested final against Chinese Taipei to seal their victory and walk away with the Cup.
Sri Lanka proved their superiority in the Asian Schools Under 18 Seven-a-side rugby tournament when they beat top contenders and host nation Chinese Taipei by 10 points (2 tries) to 5 (1 try) in the Cup championship final in Chinese Taipei after trailing 5-nil at the breather. The Junior Tuskers put up an excellent performance both in attack and defense which laid the foundation for this historic victory.
This is the first time in Sri Lanka’s rugby history they have become overall Cup champions. They finished third in the first leg in Hong Kong. Sri Lanka’s initial performance in the group stages was beating UAE 49-0, China 42-0, Singapore 38-5, Philippines 19-14 and Taipei 19-14. In the final they met Taipei again and defeated them with a try being scored in the very last minute of the game. The final scoreboard read “Sri Lanka 10 – 05 Chinese Taipei.’’
However Chinese Taipei dominated the first 4 minutes of the game, but the Lankans were solid in defense using the tactical dogleg and some rush defense. The Isipathana scrum half Harith Bandara was lucky to get away with only a warning for swinging arm from the referee instead of the yellow card. Hosts Chinese Taipei were superb in the first half putting loads of pressure.
Sri Lanka gave away possession with 2 attacking scrums. In another scrum, Josephian Chathura Senavirathne was sin-binned and with a man-advantage Taipei scored the first try in the corner. A penalty option went a begging as Peterite Theekshana Heshan forgot to take the basic tap, passing without moving the ball off his feet.
Taipei went on the attack and had another chance but a forward pass dismantled the possibility and the referee blew the half time. At lemons the situation was in favor of the team from the far east with them leading 5-0. The hosts restart did not find the 10m and as a result Sri Lanka took the free kick from the center line. Isipathana winger Chamodh Fernando broke the defensive line and then a few switch passes between Dinuk Amarasinghe and Heshan and the ball found its way back to Fernando to score the equalizer.
Senavirathne missed the wide conversion. Taipei had momentum with possession and territory but decided to make a cross kick which was perhaps not the right decision. The bouncing ball resulted in a ‘dummy’ and luckily Senavirathne managed to pick up and sprint almost 100m for a try.
Bandara missed the conversion. Chinese Taipei had yet another chance but credit to some brilliant defensive work by the junior Tuskers this was abated. Finally Sri Lanka had the last scrum success where Bandara managed to feed the ball and then send to his schoolmate Fernando who kicked the ball sensibly in to touch at full time.
Incidentally Chinese Taipei held Philippines to a 14-all draw to get into the final with the Lankans. Philippines however bagged the Plate championship edging out fighting Singapore 14-10. China grabbed the Bowl thrashing UAE by a massive 47-nil margin.
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