Army Sports Club came up with a terrific second half performance to edge out the Air Force Sports Club by 33 points to 32 in a thrilling Dialog Rugby league fixture that concluded at the Racecourse International stadium this evening. Army collected their points from 5 tries and 4 conversions while Air Force responded with 4 tries, 3 conversions and 2 penalties.
Army got things underway on a bright Sunday afternoon, and both teams wasted little time going about their business, using the full width of the pitch to test each other’s defensive attributes. The hosts managed to draw first blood inside the 10th minute through winger Sudaraka Dikkumbura who dived over by the left corner flag. Full-back Gayan Salinda’s conversion attempt was close but not good enough. (ASC 05 – AFC 00)
Air Force responded three minutes later as winger Amila Bandara added the finishing touches to score a magnificent team try besides the posts. Center Charith Senevirathne put over the extras to put his team ahead by two points. Five minutes later Senevirathne was in thick of things yet again, this time intercepting a pass from Army’s Ashoka Jayalal to scamper through unchallenged and touch down under the posts. Senevirathne converted his own try and extend his teams lead. (ASC 05 – AFC 14).
It looked like Senevirathne could do no wrong as he extended his teams lead to 12 points with a well taken 35 meter penalty. The Soldiers fell further adrift conceding another try in the 37thminute. The Air Force’s No.08 Saraka Weralla made an evading run by passing the Army defense and when tackled made a neat off load to Sooriya Krishan who arrived in support and score mid right. Charith Senevirathne’s conversion however agonizingly hit the posts. (ASC 05 – AFC 22).
Army having being outplayed for major parts of the first half did have some confidence instilled as they managed to collect 7 points off a penalty try just before the half time whistle.
HALF TIME: ARMY 12 – AIR FORCE 22.
Army who trailed by 10 points at the break, knew they needed to start better and mount a challenge to get back into the game. The hosts got off to the perfect start scoring a try in the 42ndminute through Ashoka Jayalal. Army’s Ashan Bandara made a telling run covering more than 50 meters which brought play into the opposition 22’. A few phases later the ball found the hands of Jayalal who barged his way through to the try line. Full back Gayan Salinda put over the conversion and Army were right back in it. (ASC 19 – AFC 00).
It took only a matter of a few more minutes before Army came back storming into Air Force territory yet again which saw Prop Sugath Nanayakkara crashing through for a try. Salinda added the extras as Army took over the lead. (ASC 26 – AFC 22)
Army went on to dominate the game from there onwards virtually parking themselves inside the Air Force half. However despite all the domination Army just couldn’t add any points due to some crucial mistakes in attack. Instead it was Air Force who managed to get out of jail and get on the scoreboard in the 65th minute courtesy of a Charith Senevirathne penalty which cut the deficit to a mere point. (ASC 26 – AFC 25).
But any optimism from the Air Force camp was soon put to bed by Army’s Fly Half Ashan Bandara who sliced through the Air Force defense inside their 22 to score a brilliant try. Gayan Salinda was on target with the conversion yet again as Army extended their lead from a point to 8 points. (ASC 33 – AFC 22).
The Air Force did come up with a few promising moves in a do or die effort but handling errors proved to be costly, denying them of any score. The game ended with the Airmen scoring a try through prop Gihan Perera which came just a little too late for his side.
FULL TIME: ARMY 33 – AIR FORCE 32
Referee: Priya Suranga
ThePapare.com player of the match: Gayantha Iddamalgoda (Air Force SC)
Score Breakdown: ARMY (5T, 4C)
Tries: Sudaraka Dikkumbura, Ashoka Jayalal, Ashan Bandara, Sudath Nanayakkara and 1 Penalty Try
Conversions: Gayan Salinda (4)
Score Breakdown: AIR FORCE (4T, 3C, 2P)
Tries: Amila Bandara, Charith Senevirathn, Sorriya Krishantha, Gihan Perera
Conversions: Charith Senevirathne (3)
Penalties: Charith Senevirathne (2)