Sri Lanka gets shot at promotion after downing Volcanoes in ARC Division 1 final

Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

BOCAUE—Sri Lanka banked on its second half defense to wallop the Philippines, 27-14, in the title game of the Asian Rugby Championship Division 1 at the Philippine Sports Stadium on Saturday night.

Alex Aronson, the hero in last Wednesday's win against Singapore, opened the scoring for the Volcanoes with a penalty, but the Sri Lankans scored 13 straight points to open a ten-point cushion.

Aronson scored another penalty, but eight more unanswered points by Sri Lanka stretched its lead to 15, 21-6.

Kenneth Stern scored a try to keep the Volcanoes in the game with the team down, 11-21, at halftime.

Aronson opened the second half with a penalty to make it a one-possession game with less than 30 minutes left.

But back-to-back penalties from Riza Mubarak plus the Sri Lankans' stifling defense on the Volcanoes in the end sealed the championship win for the foreign squad.

Mubarak finished with 12 points all on penalties for Sri Lanka, which will take on Hong Kong in a playoff for a spot in the Top 3 Division next year. The winner will join Japan and South Korea in the top-flight level.

Aronson had six points, also on penalties, to lead the Volcanoes, who will stay in Division 1 next year with Kazakhstan, a 32-12 winner over Singapore in the third place game earlier in the day. Also joining both the Philippines and Kazakhstan in Division 1 are the losing side in the Hong Kong-Sri Lanka match and the winner of another promotional playoff between the champion of Division 2 and Singapore.