World Cup Qualifying Asia Round 1
Thailand 33, Kazakhstan 10 in Colombo (WCQ Asia Nations Div.1)
Sri Lanka 39, Chinese Taipei 8 in Colombo (WCQ Asia Nations Div.1)
Sri Lanka and Thailand open HSBC Asian 5 Nations 2013 with Division I wins.
Top seeds Kazakhstan fall to shock defeat against 4th-seed Thailand
[Colombo, Sri Lanka, March 31 2013]: A stirring second-half display gave hosts Sri Lanka the perfect start to its campaign to win promotion to the Top Five in the HSBC Asian Five Nations (HSBC A5N) next season as they crushed Chinese-Taipei 39-8 in their match on Sunday.
Sri Lanka led 6-3 at the break but turned on the style in the second half running in five tries as they over-powered their opponents in the opening game in the HSBC A5N Division One competition in Colombo.
“We haven’t played test rugby for a long time and it showed in the first half. But we settled down after the break and stuck to our game plan and it worked,” said pleased skipper Yoshitha Rajapakse.
The country’s president Mahinda Rajapakse and First Lady Shiranthi Rajapakse were among the 4,800-strong crowd that vociferously cheered the home team that included two sons from the First Family – Yoshitha and elder brother and parliamentarian Namal Rajapakse.
A dreary first-half ended with the only points coming from the boots of Sri Lanka’s fullback Riza Mubarak and Chinese-Taipei flyhalf Wang Chi-pin. But the crowd came alive when winger Chamara Dabare began the second half in outstanding fashion when he powered his way past two defenders with an angular run to score Sri Lanka’s first try.
Yoshitha Rajapakse then added a second from close range, burrowing over to extend the lead before flyhalf Fazil Marija added a scintillating brace and Sri Lanka took total control with substitute Sumedha Malewana scoring the fifth try.
Mubarak knocked over two penalties and three conversions with sub Roshan Weeraratne adding another. Chinese-Taipei’s Chuang Ming-che scored a late consolation try. Sri Lanka was the only team in today’s competition to notch a bonus point on the competition table for scoring four or more tries.
“We made too many mistakes at the breakdown. It was disappointing,” said Chinese-Taipei skipper Lu Wei-fan.
Sri Lanka’s South African coach Ravin du Plessis said: “We played well in patches. I thought we left too many points on the park in the first half in particular as we were dominating territorially. A win is a win but we have plenty of work to do.”
In the opening game, Thailand turned in a giant-killing act stunning top seeds Kazakhstan 33-10 to emerge as dangerous outsiders for promotion to the Top Five next year.
The winner of this four-team tournament earns promotion to the elite company of Asian rugby and sees their Rugby World Cup qualification campaign continue into next year’s final stages.
In 2013, the Division I and Top 5 competitions are doubling as Asia’s qualifiers for Rugby World Cup 2015 as the winning team from Division I will advance to next year’s Top 5 and a chance for outright qualification as Asia’s sole entrant to RWC 2015. Similarly the bottom placed team after the Top 5 campaign (starting on April 20) will be demoted to Division I next season and see their Rugby World Cup dream come to an end.
Image thanks to http://www.rugbyworldcup.com
Kazakhstan, who were pre-tournament joint-favourites with hosts Sri Lanka to clinch the promotion berth, struggled to cope with the searing heat of a Colombo afternoon. But coach Timur Mashurov refused to blame the conditions for his team’s capitulation.
“We made too many errors, especially our ball handling which was very poor. We were naive with the ball in hand and our decision-making was very poor,” said a disappointed Mashurov. “The conditions were hot, but we can’t use that as an excuse for it was the same for Thailand too.”
The 2.00 pm kick-off seemed to have an early adverse effect on Kazakhstan coming off their winter but the heavier forwards led by captain and No. 8 Serik Zhanseitov won the Central Asian team a number of clear chances which were spurned through faulty handling.
Thailand led 17-0 at the break thanks to two tries against the run of play by centre Sirichai Daothaisong and winger Topong Boonlon. Daothaisong capitalised on a good 70-metre run by fullback Warongkorn Khamkoet after Boonlon had forced a turnover with a big hit on centre Ildar Abdrazakov who spilled the ball a metre from the Thai tryline.
Boonlon then dotted down just before the break, completing a quick counter-attack which began once again inside their own 22. Winger Pichit Yingcharoen added a third try midway through the second half as Thailand extended their lead.
With goal-kicking fullback Warongkorn Khamkoet in impeccable form with the boot, Thailand punished the frequent errors by Kazakhstan as Khamkoet knocked over four penalties and two conversions to finish with 16 points.
“This is a great win for us. It is the first time we have beaten Kazakhstan in the Asian Five Nations and coming in the first game of the tournament, it is a massive boost for our confidence,” said delighted Thai coach Tanyavit Kuasint.
Round one’s results see Sri Lanka top the tournament table on six points, five for the win plus a single bonus point for scoring four or more tries. Thailand is one off the pace with five points while Kazakhstan and Chinese Taipei are on one point each.
The next matches will see Sri Lanka play Thailand (16.00 local time) and Kazakhstan face off against Chinese Taipei (14.00 local time) on Wednesday 3rd of April at Havelocks RFC in Colombo.
The HSBC ARFU Coaching Tour is underway as well in Sri Lanka with clinics held for 600 youngsters already after only two days of the Tour.
The HSBC ARFU Coaching Tour will conduct activities in every province in Sri Lanka in the week ahead with over 6,200 participants, (the great majority of them new to rugby), registered to take part.
After reaching nearly 12,000 (11,800) youth in 2012, ARFU is targeting to engage over 20,000 youth in 2013. Participants in the coaching programme come from a wide variety of schools, youth-focused charities and social organisations with a focus on engaging first-time participants in rugby.
Following the Tour’s stop in Sri Lanka the HSBC ARFU coaches will be visiting Jakarta next week and conducting clinics for 1,000 local youth.
For more information please visit: www.asian5nations.com
About HSBC and Rugby
HSBC is a long-term investor in Rugby in Asia and around the world. As well as being the title sponsor of the Sevens World Series, Asian 5 Nations and Asian Sevens Series, the bank is co-title sponsor of the Hong Kong Sevens from 2012. HSBC is the Principal Partner of all the Hong Kong rugby teams, and the British & Irish Lions, who will play in Hong Kong in 2013 en route to Australia. The bank is also the title sponsor of the Waratahs Super 15 team in Australia, the Penguin International Coaching Academy and the Cobra 10s tournament in Malaysia.
Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU)
ARFU was founded in 1968 with eight member unions. In the past decade its membership has trebled to 28 full and associate member unions ranging from Kazakhstan in the north to Indonesia in the south and Lebanon in the west to Guam in the east. ARFU covers a territory of over 44 million sq. kilometres and more than three billion people. ARFU is the sanctioning body for the HSBC Asian 5 Nations, which every four years acts as the qualifying event for the Rugby World Cup, and the HSBC Asian Sevens Series, which was held for the first time in 2011. ARFU also offers organized international competition for women and youth across Asia.
For enquiries regarding the HSBC Asian 5 Nations or interviews with the participating teams, please contact Sean Moore, Tournament Operations Manager, on firstname.lastname@example.org or +852 9095 8889.
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