Sri Lankan rugby fans will hope that home conditions will provide a stimulus to their teams when the Third Leg of the Asian Sevens Series gets underway at the Race Course grounds next Saturday (28) and Sunday (29).
Fairly comfortably ensconced in fifth place with 11 points (the same as South Korea), the men’s team do not face banishment from the top tier when next year’s edition comes round.
However, it is a different matter altogether for the women who flopped badly at the earlier legs in Korea and China.
With but a solitary win in eight games.
Sanjeewani de Silva’s team will be ware that unless they improve by leaps and bounds, they could be an extinct species come the 2020 series.
The prognostics are gloomy as Sri Lanka has been drawn in Group 1 alongside Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand.
All these teams thumped the Sri Lankans by comfortable margin in the course of the first two legs.
Dhanush Dayan’s team did rather better, beating the UAE 21-17, and giving China a fright (21-17) before losing in Korea.
A smashing 42-0 battering of Chinese Taipei in the Plate semi-final was just the tonic that the Tuskers needed.
Japan put the pretenders firmly in their place by registering a convincing 37-0 triumph.
Worse was to follow as Hong Kong, the eventual champion, made a meal of the local team trashing them by 55 points to nil in the Cup semi-final.
Japan cranked up the pressure on Sri Lanka in the 3-4 place play off by trouncing Dhanush’s men 40-0.
Optimism is high that the men will make use of home support to beat Korea and the UAE, and thus enter the semi-final of the Cup.
After all, both teams were beaten by Sri Lanka in the earlier legs.
The other team in their group, Hong Kong, will be a bridge too far.
The hamstring injury to one of Sri Lanka’s Sevens’ specialists – Srinath Sooriyabandara – will undoubtedly be a bitter pill to swallow.
In recent years, he has stood out with his dynamism and ability to think on his feet.
The points standings after the first two legs are follows.
Men: Hong Kong (22), Japan (20), China (18), South Korea (11), Sri Lanka (11), UAE (6), Philippines (5), Chinese Taipei (3)
Women: Japan (24), China (20), Kazakhstan (15), Hong Kong (15), Thailand (8), Malaysia (5), Singapore (4), Sri Lanka (3)
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