It is advantage Malaysia and Sri Lanka in the race for the Asia Rugby Championship 2017 Div 1 title – and the chance to make further progress on the road to RWC 2019 – after opening wins over the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines respectively.
Jone Nasalo was the toast of the Malaysian team on Sunday after scoring a hat-trick of tries in a 36-22 win for the defending champions. Wong Wye Wye and Sakiusa Terence Gavidi added a try each in the final quarter as Malaysia posted five tries in total, four of whch were converted.
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With 18 places and the best part of seven points between the nations in the World Rugby Rankings at kick-off, no rating points were riding on the outcome. Ironically, though, Malaysia are now one place worse off, in 55th, while the vanquished UAE climb one place to 71st due to the results of matches featuring teams in and around them in the rankings.
SRI LANKA TOO STRONG FOR PHILIPPINES
In the earlier match at Ipoh Padang, Sri Lanka defeated the Philippines 24-13 after scoring two tries and kicking four penalties and one conversion.
The Sri Lankans raced into an 11-0 half-time lead thanks to a try from Danuska Wijekoon Mudiyanselage and two penalties from the boot of Thilina Wijisingle Gurukandure Gedara.
The Filipinos finally got on the scoreboard when Kevin Gordon slotted a penalty on the hour mark. However, Sri Lanka responded with a 10-point burst after Gedara kicked his third penalty and then converted Richard Dhampala’s try to take the score to 21-3.
Back-to-back tries from Justin Coveney and Ricky Kucia put the Volcanoes within eight points of their opponents with five minutes left, but Mudiyanselage sealed it for Sri Lanka with a late penalty.
Sri Lanka move up two places in the rankings to 39th, leapfrogging Lithuania and Senegal in the process, while the Philippines stay unchanged in 57th despite losing just over half a point.
The Asia Rugby Championship Division I resumes on Wednesday when early table-toppers Malaysia take on the Philippines and Sri Lanka play UAE.
Asia Rugby Championship 2017 Div 1
17 May Ipoh Padang – Ipoh Malaysia
Game 3 2 P Sri Lanka Vs UAE
Game 4 4 pm Malaysia Vs Philippines
(local time +8GMT)
All matches can be viewed live on:
Asia: www.rugbypass.com in Asia
Malaysia: Astro TV and Astro HD In Malaysia; rugby pass in available for Free in Malaysia
New Zealand: SKY Rugby TV 64
Rest of the world: Our Asia Rugby Live Facebook Page across the rest of world
Photo credit: Super sports media
Photos credit : Zainuddin Mamat /ragbionline