Volcanoes miss bronze, bow to Sri Lankans

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Volcanoes failed to snag a podium finish in the first leg of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series as they fell to Sri Lanka in Saturday’s bronze medal match, 12-40, at King’s Park Sports Ground in Hong Kong.

The Tuskers used their speed to pierce through the Phl defense and make the Volcanoes play catch up throughout then tightened the noose with a telling 19-0 exchange towards the finish.

The Filipinos thus settled for fourth in the opener of the three-leg series, a placing that Philippine Rugby officials felt was an encouraging start considering the team fielded six new faces in the competition.

It also marked an improvement from their best performance in 2017 – fifth spot in the culminating leg – which the Phl 7s squad can build on heading into the second leg in Korea next month.

Japan, the Volcanoes’ conquerors in the semis, went on to win the Cup over Hong Kong, 12-0, avenging its defeat to the hosts in the recent Asian Games.

The Volcanoes returned to international action after missing out on the Asiad and quickly made their presence felt by upsetting Asian Games third placer Korea, 12-7, then nipping 2017 Southeast Asian Games titlist Malaysia, 26-10, to advance to the Cup semis with a game to spare.

They lost to Hong Kong in the final Group B game, 7-42, then bowed to Japan in the Last-4, 5-36, to find themselves in the battle for third with Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankans opened scoring against Phl just 50 seconds in with Naveen Kankanamage touching goal and Srinath Rankothgedara converting then made it 14-0 in the second minute courtesy of Sudam Sooriyaarachi’s converted try.

Donald Colman, one of the Phl debutants, put the Volcanoes on board with his fourth minute try that Joe Dawson padded with two extra points but Danuk Rankothgedara restored a 14-point edge for the Tuskers just before the break.

Dawson gave Phl five points to start the second half but that turned out to be the Pinoys’ final say as Sri Lanka went on to post three more tries and two conversions from there to put the game away.