Malaysia’s Rugby World Cup 2019 dream remains intact after they beat Sri Lanka 22-9 in the Asia Rugby Championship Division 1 2017 title decider at Ipoh Padang on Saturday.
The hosts, ranked 16 places below Sri Lanka in the World Rugby Rankings, had to overcome three yellow cards in the match and ironically scored their two tries when down to 14 in the second half.
Centre Jone Mawara Nasalo had given Malaysia the perfect start inside four minutes, but within two minutes he was in the sin-bin with Thilina Wijesinghe Gurukandure Gedara kicking two penalties to edge Sri Lanka ahead in his absence.
In the middle of those two kicks Malaysia lost a second player to the bin in full-back Samuela Tamanisau, but fortunately the cards didn’t cost the hosts any further points and the score remained at 6-5 until half-time.
Sri Lanka increased their lead with another Gurukandure Gedara penalty just before the hour mark and this was swiftly followed by another yellow for Malaysia, this time for prop Amuril Sani.
In his absence, Malaysia turned the match in their favour with two tries in four minutes, centre Sakiusa Terence Gavidi and winger Wong Wye Wye dotting down to make it 19-9 with 13 minutes to go.
Sri Lanka didn’t recover from those quick-fire tries and a penalty by replacement Muhamad Amirul Aqil Kamsol wrapped up the victory and a second successive Division I title for his side.
Philippines finish with a win
Malaysia will be promoted to the Top 3 in 2018 and battle Hong Kong and Korea for the title and a play-off with the Oceania Cup 2017 winner for a place in the repechage tournament that will determine the 20th and final qualifier for RWC 2019.
The RWC 2019 dream had already died for the Philippines and Division I newcomers UAE after two losses in the tournament, but they were playing for third place on Saturday with the former running out 36-24 winners.
The Philippines had the perfect start with winger Justin Coveney scoring the opening try after just 28 seconds, but last year’s Division II champions didn’t panic and moved ahead when Andrew Stevenson converted Edward Talbot’s 12th-minute try.
The Volcanoes other winger, Kevin Gordon, popped up with a second try just before the end of the first quarter and, not to be outdone by his back three colleagues, full-back Patrice Olivier crossed on the stroke of half-time to give his side a 15-10 lead at the break.
Stevenson and Gordon traded penalties after the break before Coveney scored his second try in the 54th minute to seemingly put the Philippines in control at 23-13. However, once more UAE hit back with Ryno Fourie’s converted try and two Stevenson penalties making it 26-23 in their favour.
There was to be no victory for UAE to celebrate as Gordon tied the scores with a penalty with 10 minutes to go, before Olivier grabbed his second of the match and fly-half Gareth Holgate had the final say with a late drop goal.
Photo Credit: Asia Rugby/Tigers Super Sports Media