By Shamzeer Jaleel
Sri Lanka ran away with a 12 try blitz defeating the hosts, Taipei 72/17 in the 3rd place play off at the Asia Rugby Championship Division 1 in Taipei.
At the short breather Sri Lanka scored 31 unanswered points and got into complete command of the game.
Philippines who beat Sri Lanka 39/22 in the opening game secure a Top 3 promotion in 2020 with a close 29/21 win over Singapore who were placed second in the competition, Taipei will be demoted to Division 2 while UAE secured their berth with a Division 2 win last week.
Sri Lankan tries were scored by Dinuk Amarasinghe (2), Kavindu Perera (2) and Sudaraka Dikkumbura (2) while one each by Omalka Gunaratne, Thilina Wijesinghe, Buddhima Piyaratne, Mithun Hapugoda, Reza Rafaideen and Yaqoob Ali. Thilina Wijesinghe converted 4 of the tries while Dinuk Amarasinghe and Prasad Madushanka were on target with one kick each.
For the hosts, Taipei, Chung-Yu Lee, Wei-Chiang Sun and Wei-Ming Lin scored a try each.
Speaking to SLR, Sri Lanka three quarter coach, Fazil Marija said "We would have loved a win against Philippines but considering it was a very young side with nearly 17 debutants its tough with less experience and exposure at Asian level. They had lot of heart, resilience and commitment to be proud of. I was happy with the backs play and the set pieces in the forwards, especially as we were against a very physical and more experienced side in the Philippines pack, and the win against Taipei was beyond expectation. There is a lot of enthusiasm and spirit and we need to keep building morale with this.
Sri Lanka skipper, Omalka Gunaratne speaking said %u201CI am very happy with the performance of our young team. We had a lot of younger players sad to lose out to Philippines but end was great with a huge win over the hosts.
Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) Deputy President, Rizly Ilyas, who attended the Exco Meeting at the Asian Rugby speaking from Taipei said "We are happy how the youngsters performed in Taipei with 17 of them making their debut for Sri Lanka. We will give more exposure for these youngsters in the future with tournaments. We as a governing body are thankful to the coaching staff, Matt Lee, Fazil Marija and Viraj Prasanna for the hard work done in short span of time.
Sri Lanka will get back into Sevens Rugby with the Asia Rugby Sevens Series kicking off in South Korea and then moving to China and ending in Sri Lanka. Further another Olympic Games Qualification Tournament later this year in South Korea Sri Lanka will banking on youth and experience to take them to the next level in Asian rugby.
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