CH & FC ended the Dialog Rugby League, securing third place on the table defeating CR & FC 24-25 to claim the Hadji Omar Trophy, in their final game of the season, played at Longdon Place.
The equation was straightforward for the visiting CH team as they needed a bonus point win to move up to third place while hosts CR needed a win to pip CH to fourth place.
Avantha Lee’s absence continued to hamper the visitors but the return of Sudarshana Mututhanthri after his stint in New Zealand was a major boost. Meanwhile the CR backroom staff surprisingly omitted in form flanker Taariq Salih.
Both teams had an equal share of possession in the first few exchanges, however, the game was played between the two 22-meter line as scoring opportunities were few and far between.
Captain Kavindu Perera got the first breakthrough for CR as he stunned the visitors with a try, as CR worked the line in stunning fashion, creating the extra man for the captain to dot down in the corner.
Tarinda Ratwatta nailed the touch line conversion to make it the perfect start to the game for the hosts, who started as underdogs. (CR 07-00 CH)
Inconsistency was the Achilles heel for CR, and it showed as they conceded soon after scoring.
Samuel Maduwantha was on target with his first kick of the evening as he punished the CR defense for being offside after securing the restart. (CR 07-03 CH)
Returning Sri Lanka Sevens captain, Mututhantri looked in prime form, taking no time to settle as he got his name on the scoresheet as the flanker, barging his way over from close range.
The touchline conversion went astray by Maduwantha as CH took a single point lead in the game. (CR 07-08 CH)
The game took a tedious look to it as the electrifying atmosphere at the famous CR & FC grounds was missing even though there was a lot at stake for both teams.
The exchange of tries continued, as first, Omalka Gunarathne bundled over fellow defenders scoring the second for the home team, injecting some life into the hosts after conceding. Ratwatta converted from the beside the post as the lead switched sides. (CR 14-08 CH)
The game seemed to head into the break with the home team taking a surprise lead, however, Maduwantha had other ideas, grabbing the lead back in favor of the visitors.
The visiting captain, Yoshitha Rajapakse, pounced on a loose ball, picking and offloading to Maduwantha as he ran through the heart of the home defense, beating the final defender to score a converted try, taking CH with a single point lead into half time.
The action dried up after the break as the screams of the fans crept through the hush to add some life into the clash.
Maduwantha had one final opportunity to extend the visitors lead on the stroke of half time however he missed in astonishing fashion.
Halftime: CR & FC 14 (2T 2C) trail CH & FC 15 (2T 1C 1P)
Maduwantha failed with the boot yet again, soon after Ratwatta missed two opportunities in quick succession, leaving both teams with plenty to ponder at the beginning of the second half.
The second half was drastically different, as both displayed intent and determination to end the League season on a high.
CH tighthead, Chathura Dilshan found himself on the far right wing, adding a fitting ending to the move which was begun by former CR winger, Anuradha Herath.
Lee Keegal was also in the thick of things as he threw a sublime off load, after Herath leapt the highest, pouncing on a cross kick, for the Prop to dive over.
Maduwantha has had better days with his right foot as he failed to add the extras as CR remained in touching distance. (CR 14-20 CH)
CH smelled blood, as the hunt for the fourth try began with the visitors pushing the home team to the brink on a few occasions.
However, the CR defense held firm, as replacement five-eighth Chanaka Chandimal came on to spark some life, adding impetus into the home side.
Charana Chamika who began proceedings on the bench, he continued his comeback from injury; he was the next to dive over, tightening their grip on the change of momentum.
Ratwatta added the extras, however, CH remaining one score away from winning the game. (CR 24-20 CH)
Player of the Match, Hashan Maduranga made two crucial breaks down the right wing as he had Reeza Rafaideen in his pocket, displaying glimpses of his form from his school days.
It was a fitting end to the encounter, as Maduranga’s finish in the corner was the match winner. He found himself with just Razaideen to beat, as he fended his opposite number, diving over to secure the game.
The try, off a wave off pressure in which CR yielded 4 penalties as ended the game, handing the visitors the Hadji Omar Trophy and the all-important third place on the Dialog Rugby League table.
However, if Havelock Sports Club get the better out of Kandy Sports Club up in Nittawela, CH will drop down to 4th Place as Havelock’s will remain in second place.
Full time: CR & FC 24 (3T 3C 1P) lost to CH & FC 25 (4T 1C 1P)
ThePapare.com Player of the match: Hashan Maduranga (CH Winger)
CR & FC – Kavindu Perera 1T, Omalka Gunarathne 1T, Charana Chamika 1T, Tarinda Ratwatta 3C 1P
Bookings – Kokila Hiran
CH & FC – Sudarshana Mututhanrti 1T, Chathura Dilshan 1T, Samuel Maduwantha 1T, 1C 1P ,Heshan Maduwantha