SINGAPORE - Sri Lanka overcame a disjointed first-half performance to beat Singapore 33-17 in the opening match of the Asia Rugby Championship Division I on Sunday.
Ranked 38th in the world and 21 spots higher than their opponents, the Sri Lankans began sluggishly and were put under pressure by the Singaporean forwards.
The Republic scored two tries through winger Jay-Hykel Jailani and back Peter McFeeley at the Royal Selangor Stadium in Kuala Lumpur to lead 17-15 at the break.
But the South Asian side awoke in the next 40 minutes to score 18 unanswered points to seal the win.
Singapore's appearance in Division 1 was a last-minute entry. They were scheduled to compete in Division 2 after being relegated last season but were included in the week-long tournament in Malaysia after Kazakhstan withdrew last month.
The four-nation round-robin competition also features the Philippines (world No. 54) and host Malaysia (58th) who face each other in the second match on Sunday.
The winning team will get a shot at promotion into the top-tier Tri-Nations division, via a play-off against the bottom-placed team of the ongoing competition featuring continental powerhouses Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.