Published: 31 March 2013
The Sri Lankan Tuskers on their first outing for the 2013 edition of the Asian 5 nations dished out a scintillating display in the second half to outclass Chinese Taipei.
The first half of the game was “dilly dallying” with both sides looking to find their footing. Penetrating runs and hard hits were witnessed but not very fruitful in contributing to the points. The Lankans had a slight upper hand with a bulk of the play being in the opposition half.
The home team was the first on the board with a 22 meter penalty courtesy of the boot of Rizah Mubarak. There was drama early on as Mubarak was requested to retake the kick since the referee had stopped play. Did not make a difference as the reliable Mubarak slotted it over once more, Tuskers up 3 nothing in the second quarter of the game.
Chinese Taipei had the opportunity to level the score at the 35th minute with a penalty from 42 meters out. Fly Half Wang Chih Pin was unsuccessful in the attempt and the score remained in favour of the Lankan’s.
Close upon the short whistle Mubarak was once more called to duty to further the lead, this time from a lengthy 40 meters out but straight at the post. The nippy Full Back had no problems as he slotted the penalty through, easy as pie. 6 nothing, Tuskers. Chinese Taipei bought some extra vigor to their game with the half looming and pressure saw them on the good end of a penalty. Wang made no mistake this time from 30 meters, clean hit to take the score to 6-3 at the half.
It was a probing and prodding game with both sides looking to suss the opponent and not making much progress on the score board. The respective coaches had a lot to say during the break and a more entertaining half was definitely to follow.
The tone in the second half was set very early on as Chamara Dabare went blistering over the try line, after a good passage of play by the Tuskers. Good hands and clean ball was what created the opportunity for Dabare to go over with some brilliant solo work as well. Dabare stood out in the first half as well with speedy runs down the flank and through the middle and was richly rewarded to be the first to cross the line. Mubarak’s conversion going astray saw the home team take a healthy lead 11-3. The match though was far from over with almost an entire half to go.
6 minutes into the second half the visitors had the chance to reduce the deficit with a penalty being awarded. The kick at goal sailing away from the posts left the visitors at square one but yet with a lot to play for as there were indications of the pressure being upped by the men in blue.
Not only did the visitors have to bear the scorching sun beating down mercilessly, the hosts too turned on the gas as they put the opposition to test with good rugby skill: basics and an occasional flashy play giving the Chinese Taipei side a sweltering time. Relentless efforts finally bore fruit as the Tuskers broke through the Chinese Taipei fort and Sathya Ranathunga going over the line. Mubarak coming good with a penalty from a difficult angle out right took the lead to 18-3 with just over a quarter of the game to go.
Just when the opposition would have thought this was as hot as it was going to get: enter stage right Sri Lankan Rugby’s golden boy Fazil Marija! Two tries in the space of 8 minutes, one a pick-up, step (after a smart chip by Rizah Mubarak) and run and the other a brilliant smother, with a hurried Chinese Taipei defense looking to clear, to collect cleanly and go under the post. Marija reiterated his position as one of the best products of the country’s rugby showcasing his skill both physical and mental, particularly his ability to read the game was astounding. Taking a back seat feeding the line and then when the opportunity came, no excuses only results! Both conversions being successfully completed took the Tuskers to an unassailable 32-3 lead.
The try hungry Lankan’s were not done yet, as Sumedha Malewana went over the line bowling his opposite number. Roshan Weeraratne made easy work with the conversion 39-3.
With the long whistle not too far away Sri Lanka’s Dushmatha Priyadarshana was shown the yellow card for indiscipline at the break down and was sent off for the rest of the match. Chinese Taipei taking advantage of the reduced forward strength pushed a gigantic forward force with their sights on the line and was successful in getting a consolation try in with Chuang Ming Che going over and the score moved to 39-8. Pan Chih Hsiang missed the conversion with a difficult angle from the extreme right.
The Tuskers took the game with the long whistle going off and they can take quite a few positives home. The lads took their time in settling down, a whole half at that, but the return was impressive with the phases and the fluidity in the play clearly highlighting fruition of the extensive training. Chinese Taipei on the other hand was outclassed by a better outfit and will look to make good against their outing with Kazakhstan on Wednessday.
Chamara Dhabare was a stand-out player of the game with his speedy breaks and swift runs but at the end of the day MVP will go to the Tuskers’ deputy Fazil Marija. If Mohamed Ali’s saying “float like a butterfly sting like a bee” can be applied to someone in rugby this gentleman would be it! But at ThePapare we call it 'graceful yet so powerful.
The hosts will definitely have their work cut out as they take on Thailand on Wednesday. It is a fiery and upbeat team they will be pitted against, the Thai’s having beaten Kazakhstan comprehensively 33-10.
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