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Wednesday, 3 April 2013

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Sri Lanka face strong challenge from Thailand

Sri Lanka which launched their campaign for the HSBC Asian Five Nations Rugby Title with a smashing 39-8 win over Chinese Taipei on Sunday will face a fierce challenge from Thailand in their match at Havelock Park at 4 pm today.

The Thais are in a buoyant mood after their sensational 33-10 win over the more fancied Kazakhstan and should give a close run to the Lankans today.

Sri Lanka skipper Yoshitha Rajapaksa. Pictures by Ruwan de Silva

Thailand skipper Chatree Wannadit

Sri Lankan forwards played a key role in their success over Chinese Taipei. Skipper Yoshitha Rajapaksa was a source of inspiration to his team-mates with his fiery loose play and was ably supported by Henry Terrence, Shenal Dias, Dinesh Sanjeewa, Namal Rajapaksa and the omnipresent Sajith Saranga as the Lanka ‘eight’ reigned supreme in the loose.

But today they are likely to be given a torrid time by their Thai counterparts who came up with a gallant display to outplay the much bigger and heavier Kazakhstan forwards. Skipper Chatri Wannadit, Ponpat Mekpat, Sumet Thammaporn, Suparat Konghawee, Marc Dimitrov and Richard Perkins should come up with another sterling display for Thailand.

Possession should play a vital role in the final outcome. In the line outs the Lankan trio of Sanjeewa, Dias and Saranga have the edge over the Thai duo of Konghawee and Dimitrov while the set scrums should be shared between Sri Lanka’s Namal Rajapaksa and Thailand’s Nontanant Jayasevi.

But the Lankans boast of a superior back division. Fly half Fazil Marija’s individual brilliance was on display on Sunday when he scored two brilliant tries but the two centres Pradeep Liyanage and Gayan Weeraratne failed to impress either spilling passes or being tackled in possession which resulted in Lanka’s inability to cross the Chinese Taipei goal line in the first half.

They should send out the ball to the wings where Sri Lanka has two speedy wingers in Sandun Herath and Chamara Dabare who should test the Thai defence to the hilt with their daring runs.

The Thais as they did against Kazakhstan will strive to nullify this advantage with bone-crunching tackles to cripple Lanka’s three quarter moves.

Kazakhstan will confront Chinese Taipei in the first match at 2 pm today.

Sri Lanka – Henry Terrence, Namal Rajapaksa, Kishore Jehan, Dinesh Sanjeewa, Shenal Dias, Yoshitha Rajapaksa (Captain), Sharo Fernando, Sajith Saranga, Roshan Weeraratne and Fazil Marija, Chamara Dabare, Gayan Weeraratne, Pradeep Liyanage, Sandun Herath, Reza Mubarak.

Reserves – Sathya Ranatunga, Anuranga Walpola, Sumedha Malewana, Sayuru Anthony, Rohan Weerakoon, Dushmantha Priyadarshana, Mohamed Sheriff.

Thailand – Chatchai Akkhanimart, Nontanent Jayasevi, Pongpat Mekpat, Marc Dimitrov, Suparat Kongtawee, Sumet Thammaporn, Richard Perkins, Chatree Wannadit (Captain), Punyawee Jiworawattnakul and Klin Laksanasompong, Pichit Yingaharoen, Sirichai Daothaisong, Kitti Wangkanai, Topong Boonlon, Warangkorn Khamkoet.

Reserves – Banluesup, Robert James, Klongriutoh, Prompataya, Hongsayaporn, Sophawachirarit, Ratchatanantakit.

 

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