Sri Lanka face uphill task in group A
CT Sports: Sri Lanka will be under enormous pressure when the Asian Sevens Series second leg kicks off in Korea today. The Tuskers are set to face Asian rugby giants Japan and a very strong Chinese side in the group stage matches.
Sri Lanka were beaten 33-5 by Japan in the first leg although the Tuskers had only conceded a slim lead of 12-5 at half time. It was noted that the Lankans failed to handle the pressure in the second half. However, they will be determined to put up a fighting display in the second leg.
China though were not fancied for a third place finish in the first leg, turned things around quite brilliantly hammering Sri Lanka 36-12 in the quarter-final in the concluded leg which secured them a place in the semi-final and eventually to finish third.
Sri Lanka will have a better chance against the Chinese this time around, given the fact, arguably their best player Danushka Ranjan has returned to the squad.
Ranjan of course a super star in the Asian circuit was instrumental when Sri Lanka emerged overall runners up last year under his captaincy. The former Peterite was in stunning try scoring form for double champions Kandy Sports Club before injuring his shoulder during the Asia Rugby Championship (fifteen-a-side) a few months ago.
Sri Lanka's only victory in the group stage during the first leg was registered against Chinese Taipei whom they thrashed 52-7 in a completely one-sided game.
Sri Lanka also made a last minute change to their squad with Kandy scrum half Srinath Sooriyabandara replacing wing three quarter Buddhima Piyaratne who is said to have met with an accident.
Sri Lanka will play their first game against Japan at 7.15 a.m (SL time) while taking on China at 10.30 a.m. Their last group stage match will be played against Chinese Taipei at 1.30a.m.
The Tuskers could set themselves a comfortable quarter final clash if they beat either Japan or China given the fact that Hong Kong and South Korea are expected to finish as the top two in the other group.
Sri Lanka squad: Sudarshana Muthuthanthri (Captain), Naveen Henakankanamge, Tarinda Ratwatte, Danush Dayan, Srinath Sooriyabandara, Hirantha Perera, Chanaka Chandimal, Kevin Dixon Danushka Ranjan, Sudam Sooriyarachchi, Jason Dissanayake, Omalka Gunaratne
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