Sri Lanka 33, UAE 17

Sri Lanka: Tries: Mudiyanselage, Marija, Dissanayake, Keegal; Cons: Gedara 2; Pens: Gedara 3

UAE: Tries: Moore, Powell; Cons: Stevenson 2; Pens: Stevenson

The UAE’s dream of a place at the 2019 World Cup could turn into the nightmare of relegation to the third tier of Asian rugby after they were beaten by Sri Lanka in Malaysia.

Defeat to the top-ranked side in the Asia Rugby Championship Division 1 was the national team’s second loss in the space of four days. It ended their chances of promotion to the top ranks of the continental game, and thus their hopes of playing at the World Cup in Japan in two years’ time.

It also means the UAE have to beat Philippines, who lost 40-8 to Malaysia, in Ipoh on Saturday to avoid falling straight back down to Division 2.

At the interval, the national team had trailed a side ranked 32 places above them in the world standings by just a point, thanks to tries from Glenn Moore, the Dubai Exiles captain, and Andy Powell, the Hurricanes centre.

However, a second yellow card for Josh Ives early in the second period meant they had to battle with 14 men, and they subsequently fell to defeat.

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UAE coach Apollo Perelini said his side had been unable to compete after they were shown three yellow cards in all.

“It was very disappointing result, frustrating after we came in at half time just a point down at 18-17 and ready to go for it,” Perelini said.

“We let them in, in the first minute of the second half, and then played most of the game with 14 men. We played 40 minutes with 14 men and five minutes with 13” as scrum-half Kris Greene was also sin-binned.

“We fought with 14 players, but you can’t compete against anybody with 14 men, especially in this heat and humidity, and against the type of team Sri Lanka are.”

A likely suspension for Ives for the Philippines match is the latest challenge in what has been a problematic week for Perelini.

Dan Bell, the fullback, will miss the rest of the tournament because of the ankle injury he suffered early in the opening loss to Malaysia on Sunday.

Ryno Fourie will be available for selection again after serving a one-match suspension. The medical team will assess Jaen Botes, the No 8 who scored a try but suffered concussion in the opening game, ruling him out of the game against Sri Lanka.

The rearrangement of the backline meant a first start for Toby Oakeley on the wing, while both the Emirati backs, Walid Al Balooshi and Majid Al Balooshi, made appearances as second-half replacements.

The raft of changes made it difficult for the UAE to fulfil their intention of a fast start against the Sri Lankans, according to Perelini.

“We let them score too early,” the coach said. “One of our goals was to make a good start, score early, get into their half and try to penetrate.

“That didn’t happen, and the second half was the same. It is frustrating. It is a coach killer some of the time, but there is nothing we can do about it.”

pradley@thenational.ae

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Source: Sports