Newly-promoted Sri Lanka was left ruing a
disallowed try as they fought to a 13-13 draw against the United
Arab Emirates on their debut in the HSBC Asian Five Nations Top
A 4,000-strong partisan crowd at a waterlogged
Ceylonese Rugby Football Club in Colombo groaned in disbelief
after the local touch judge ruled that substitute winger Lasitha
Costa hadnít legitimately grounded the ball minutes before
In Almaty, Hong Kong came away with a superb
23-10 victory over Kazakhstan who were reduced to 13 men midway
through the second half after red cards were handed to two
forwards for foul play.
First-half tries to skipper Tom McColl and
scrumhalf Peter McKee allowed Hong Kong to ease to a 20-3 lead at
halftime. Fly-half Keith Robertson kicked over 13 points.
The stakes were high in Colombo with both the UAE and Sri Lanka
targeting a win to ensure they stayed in the Top Five next year.
It ended in a stalemate, but not before the televised game had
seen plenty of drama.
A scoreless first half was a prelude
to all-out action in the next 40 minutes as the lead swung hands.
Sri Lanka took an 8-0 lead with winger Nuwan Hettiarachchi
knocking over a penalty and a try from tighthead prop Eranda
It started with a break by scrumhalf Roshan Weeraratne, when from a lineout deep inside his own 22, he
caught the entire UAE defence napping when he took the direct
route, through the pack, and made 50 metres before passing to
Swarnatillaka to score.
The UAE came back strongly with tries
from tighthead prop Dan Boatwright and left winger Steve Smith and
a Jonathon Grady penalty gave them a 13-8 lead. But the home team
hit back through Hettiarachchi who covered 50 metres to complete a
rare backline move.
The touchline conversion was missed by
fullback Saliya Kumara, resulting in the scores being level at
13-all and the tension mounting.
Nerves cost Sri Lanka as both Hettiarachchi and Kumara missed easy penalties late in the match
that would have sealed the win.
But the home side seemed
to have won the game when Costa slid over for what he thought was
a match-winning try, only for it to be disallowed by referee Tobi
Lothian after consulting with the touch judge who said he had
ďThe result was very disappointing. We created
enough opportunities to win and it should have really come down to
goal kicking,Ē said Sri Lanka coach Ellis Meachen, who coached
Tonga at the last Rugby World Cup. ďAll in all we played
enough good rugby to win the game. UAE played well in close
quarters but didnít offer anything in the backs. I have been here
for four months but this is the first time I woke up and it has
rained. We havenít trained in the rain and the boys did very well
in alien conditions. Sri Lanka should be proud of them.Ē
Todayís results leave Hong Kong on top of the HSBC
A5N table with five points, while Sri Lanka and UAE are level on
Hong Kong will take on Japan next Saturday (30 April) at Hong Kong Football Club while Kazakhstan travel to Abu
Dhabi to face the UAE on Friday evening (29 April at Zayed Sports
City) in what will be a crucial opportunity for last yearís HSBC
Asian 5 Nations runners-up to get points on the series board.
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