Do-or-die mission for U-19 rugby team against Taiwan
After opening defeat, Singapore U-19s can't afford to slip up against Taiwan
SRI LANKA 27
On a terribly muddy and badly cut-up Yio Chu Kang Stadium pitch, the Singapore Under-19 rugby team came unstuck against their faster and slicker Sri Lanka counterparts, going down 27-12 in their Asian Rugby Under-19 Championship opener yesterday.
The result means Singapore will need to beat Taiwan on Wednesday in order to retain their place in Division One as Hong Kong, the other team in the round-robin competition, are considered overwhelming tournament favourites.
Singapore U-19s coach Hadizan Jaaman felt his boys could hold their heads up high as they gave Sri Lanka a tough fight and were just a penalty away from levelling the scores with just 13 minutes to go, before the visitors scored two quick-fire tries.
The 29-year-old said: "Sri Lanka were second behind Hong Kong in the last edition and they were very physical and very good on the outside.
"The weather and field conditions affected our team and lapses in tackling, especially in the second half, cost us.
"We remain confident of achieving our target of beating Taiwan and staying in this division.
"Taiwan have a big forward pack and some heavy boys, and they are quick on the outside. We are a smaller team, so we will have to stay compact and play away from the big boys."
Singapore found Sri Lankan Kevin Dixon Joseph's pace too hot to handle, and the persistent rain over the weekend hardly helped.
The centre made two lung-busting sprints down half the field to score the visitors' first two tries in the 17th and 54th minutes, which sandwiched Singapore captain Jeromy Chua's 24th-minute try following good work down the left by Horatio Price.
Singapore centre Chan Cheng Boon's try on the hour gave the hundreds of local fans some hope of an upset, but tries by Thuwan Reeza Raffaideen and Mithila Perera in the 67th and 69th minutes, respectively, killed off the tie.
Despite the loss, Chua insisted morale within the team would not be affected.
The 18-year-old St Andrew's Junior College student said: "We were more affected by the muddy conditions, which meant we had to change our game plan from a fast, wide game to a tighter game.
"It didn't help that we had to use longer studs in our boots.
"But we still held the bigger and faster opponents well in the first half, before the quick tries. It was a commendable effort by the team.
"We have to take the positives from this defeat and learn from the mistakes, which were mostly missed tackles that led to the tries.
"We are upset, but the fire is still in our bellies and we want to continue to give the top teams a run for their money."