Sri Lanka - Singapore match ends in a 20-all draw
Tainan, Chinese Taipei, No. 11, 2008: Sri Lanka and Singapore have
drawn the opening match of the round robin HSBC Asian Five Nations
Division one on Wednesday.
A strong crowd of nearly 500 people that assembled for a match played
on neutral ground between two visiting teams was thrilled with the
see-saw battle that saw two tries scored in the 40th minute of both the
first and second halves. The latter try brought Singapore back from the
brink to level their opener against top seeds Sri Lanka 20 - 20.
The two teams were evenly matched throughout with Sri Lanka looking
more dangerous in the backline but Singapore, led by captain Chris
Gilbert in the second row and hard-charging Ben Wheeler at No. 8,
dominant in forwards play particulary in the opening half. As the end of
hte first half approached, the score was seemingly settled at 3-all, the
result of single successful penalties from several attempts by both
kickers, Sri Lanka winger Reza Mubarak and Singapore fly half John
But in the 38th minute Singapore lock Steve Horsfall was sent to the
bin for hands int he ruck by Arabian Gulf Rugby Football Union referee
Scott Herbet creating a crucial bit of daylight in Singapore’s forward
defence which was cannily exploited by Sri Lankan fly half Ashan De
Costa whose scything run cutting back against Singapore’s defensive line
resulted in the game’s first try on the stroke of half time. The try was
successfully converted by Reza Mubarak to bring the halftime score to 10
- 3 Sri Lanka.
The excitement continued in the second half with both teams sharing
the lead and enjoying long stretches of possession. Singapore No. 8 Ben
Wheeler continued his man of the match worthy performance wreaking some
creative destruction on the Sri Lankan defence. Wheeler was everywhere
around the park frequently popping up in mismatches against the Sri
Lankan backline and threatened to score several times during the game.
In the 18th minute of the second half. Wheeler did what every good
No. 8 should do, picking up and running strong side from a Singapore
scrum 10 metres out from the Sri Lankan sticks. Finally pulled down at
the 5-metre marker, Wheeler popped up perfectly to Singapore lock Chris
Gilbert who finished the move for a fantastic captain’s try. after
Forrester’s conversion the score was level at 10 all.
In the 30th minute the pressure told as Sri Lanka scored from a
beautiful flowing move that saw hooker Achala Perera pop into the
backline for a perfectly timed crash ball before design to centre
Lasintha De Costa who then off loaded to flying winger Chula Susantha.
Despite having plenty of work yet to do, Susantha ducked and dodged form
just past hte Singapore 22 to put Sri Lanka back in the lead 17 - 10.
Four minutes later, a successful penalty by Sri Lankan substitute Saliya
Kumara brought the score to 20 - 10 and seemingly out of Singapore’s
reach. The game seemed to be on course for a stately finish with
Singapore earning a bonus point for a loss within seven points when
fly-half Forrester nailed another penalty to claw back to 20 -13.
In the 38th minute Singapore began a wide sweeping move form a
successful lineout that petered out when the Sri Lankan defence conceded
a penalty in the tackle. Singapore opted for the touch finder and won
the lineout channelling it into a driving maul. Sri Lanka brought the
maul to ground but ball was recycled quickly and strong crash play from
Mohammed ‘Lizzy’ Ismail A. Kadir straightened the line for Singapore.
another Singaporean half-break forced the sri Lankan defence to concede
another penalty, this time for hands in the ruck.
Singapore called for the scrum with Wheeler taking the pick up but
being stopped just short of the line. Quick recycled ball ended up int
he hands of fullback Gareth Pritchard who dove over the line for another
40th minute try bringing Singapore to within two points of the draw at
20 - 18. The pressure was squarely on fly-half Forrester but the calmly
slotted the conversion to bring the game to the 20-all draw.