Havelocks Sports Club took Army Sports Club to the cleaners, defeating the hosts at their adopted home – Rathmalana – by 50-32, retaining the Yen Foo Pakstun Challenge Shield, kicking off the second round of the Dialog Rugby League in the first game of 2019.
Hosts Army were forced to make three changes due to slight injury worries while Havelocks made two changes in their backline, opting to rest Chamara Dabare, while Vimukthi Rahula dropped to the bench.
Dhanuksha Thalwatta and Riza Mubarak scored early tries before the 10-minute mark as both teams started off in shaky fashion.
Havelocks fumbled the kick-off, and were punished from the resulting scrum by Talwatta. Army paid the price for a similar error, as Niroshan Fernando found Mubarak at the end of a pin-point cross kick. Both fullbacks missed challenging conversions from the touch line as the visitors leveled out the early Army score. (Army 5-5 Havies)
Gayan Salinda knocked over a penalty to regain the lead for the home side, however, it was one way traffic from then on.
The next player in pink to register his name on the scorecard was Eshan Ariyapala before the centre hobbled off holding his left knee. Mubarak added the extras as the lead changed hands once again. (Army 8-12 Havies)
Senal Deelaka was the next to cross the whitewash for Havelocks as tries seemed to come in pairs for the visitors. Mubarak pushed his third kick astray in uncharacteristic fashion, however, the outburst of tries did not stop. (Army 8-17 Havies)
Havelock’s seemed to outfox the hosts, opting to run the ball — rather than sticking to their usual forwards play – this time from inside their own red zone.
Dushmantha Priyadarshana was the unlikely attacker to break the Army deferce, finding himself in a two-on-one situation, neatly setting up Mithun Hapugoda as the halfback was tracking his forward in a typical scrum half style support line.
Mubarak made easy work of the conversion from under the post as the visitors were coasting towards another superior bonus point win. (Army 8-24 Havies)
Sudaraka Dikkubura managed a stunning score before the half time break, however, the visitors dampened the spirits of the home faithful with a converted try from Azimr Fajudeen.
The hooker who featured in the team of round one, further cemented the decision with a solid performance, leaving Army with a lot to do after the half time, if they were to secure a win.
Half Time: Army Sports Club 13 (2T 1P) trail Havelock Sports Club 31 (5T, 3C)
The second half began in similar fashion to the first as Dikkubura capitalised on a Havelock fumble to cut the deficit to 19 points.
However, Mithun Hapugoda scored off, this time a Sithum Peiris break in a similar sort of run — in which saw him score the bonus point try — to restore a 20-point cushion between the two sides.
Mubarak finally seemed to have brought his kicking boots on in the second half, leaving the home team chasing shadows for a win. (Army 18-38 Havies)
Ashoka Jayalath found himself on the scoresheet, sandwiched in between tries from, Havelock skipper, Niroshan Fernando and Riza Mubaraka himself, however, the hosts were not able to stand the flow of points, giving away their heaviest defeat in the 2018/19 Dialog Rugby League season.
Havelock halfback Mithun Hapugoda put in a solid 80-minutes performance, grabbing ThePapare.com Player of the Match award, retaining the Yen Foo Pakstun Challenge Shield, helping coach Sanath Martis get yet another win over veteran acquaintance, Nihal ‘Viper’ Gunaratne.
Fulltime: Army Sports Club 32 (5T 2C 1P) lost to Havelock Sports Club 50 (8T 5C)
ThePapare.com Player of the Match: Mithun Hapugoda (Havelock Halfback)
Army: Dhanushka Thalwatta 3T, Sudaraka Dikkubura 1T, Ashoka Jayala 1T, Gayan Salinda 1C 1P, Isuru Madagedara 1C
Havelocks: Riza Mubarak 2T 5C, Eshan Ariyapala 1T, Senal Deelaka 1T, Mithun Hapugoda 2, Azmir Fajudeen 1T, Niroshan Fernando 1T