The two title contenders faced-off today at Havelock park as defending champions Kandy SC traveled to Colombo to take on determined Havelocks outfit in their penultimate game of the Dialog Rugby league. After a tense 80 minute battle, Kandy came up with the goods late in the second half to run away with a 26 points to 11 win and thus taking a huge step in retaining their title.
Amidst a packed house, Havelocks kicked off the day’s proceedings attacking the Colts end and it took them just four minutes to register the first points of the day through the boot of Dulaj Perera who’s 40 meter penalty attempt bisected the uprights much to the uproar of the home crowd. The early momentum however did not last long for the hosts as they were reduced to 14 men with Center Hirantha Perera shown yellow for intentionally knocking the ball forward. Kandy opted to go for 3 points off the resulting penalty but Thilina Wijesinghe’s kick drifted wide of the uprights. (HSC 03 – KSC 00).
Wijesinghe atoned for the early miss 6 minutes later, slotting through a neat 25 meter drop goal to but neither team did so thanks to some fine tackles dished out by both teams. Kandy in particular were never shy to use the full width of the park with their industrious forwards working hard to create space for the famed Kandy backs to run at. The game’s only try was scored in the 25th minute and it came at the expense of a slip by the Havies full back Kevin Dixon aka Kutty. A fairly tame clearance kick was put over behind the Havies back line and even though he had it covered Dixon lost his footing at the last moment and Richard Dharamapala gleefully pounced on the loose ball to sprint 20 meters to the corner flag. Emotions soon reached boiling point as the game had to be halted due to crowd trouble. After a brief interruption Thilina Wijesinghe was allowed to take the conversion but his attempt went astray as Kandy led by 5 points. (HSC 03 – KSC 08).
The home team responded with some much needed vigor in their play and their robustness earned them a penalty in the 30th minute. Scrum half Rahul De Silva who took over the kicking duties put over the 3 points recused the deficit to just 2 points. The home team were given an added advantage soon after when Kandy’s Roshan Weerarathne being shown yellow for a high tackle on Rahul De Silva. Kandy managed the reminder of the half to go into the break leading by 2 points.
HALF TIME: Havelocks SC 06 – Kandy SC 08
Despite being a man down, it was the visitors who began the 2nd half in better fashion and had the opportunity of extending their lead early in the 47th minute but Thilina Wijesinghe’s kick was off target yet again. Kandy slowly started to dominate play whith their backs who showed amazing artistry when running with the ball but were denied by some last-gasp defending by the hosts. Havies eventually caved into the pressure as Damith Dissanayake went over to score a corner flag try. Wijesinghe was unsuccessful with the conversion albeit a difficult one.
Former Havelocks player Dhanushka Ranjan piled more misery on the hosts when he brushed a few defenders before going over the far corener for a brilliant try. Wijesinghe’s conversion only managed to hit the uprights as Kandy pulled ahead. (HSC 06 – KSC 18). Havelocks were given life line 5 minutes later as Nishon Perera powered his way brushing aside defenders to crash through mid right. The game had to be halted once again due to crowd trouble and that seemed to take off the momentum from the hosts yet again. Rahul De Silva missed a fairly easy conversion as Kandy remained in the lead. (HSC 11 – KSC 18).
The bench strength possessed by Kandy proved to be a telling factor with the likes of Gayan Weerarathne and Srinath Sooriyabandara entering the field. Any comeback hopes for the hosts were put to bed with Thilina Wijesinghe putting over an easy penalty in the 76th minute to distance themselves on the scoreboard. (HSC 11 – KSC 21).
The final nail in the Havies coffin was bolted down in the final minute when Srinath Sooriyabandara slicing through the Havelocks defense scored a fine solo try near the corner flag. The conversion was missed as Kandy brought a fine display of rugby to an end and with it the league title now in their grasp.
Full Time: Havelocks 11 – Kandy SC 26
ThePapare player of the match – Shehan ‘lema’ Pathirana
Points scorersHavelocks : Nishon Perera 1T, Dulaj Perera 1P, Rahul De Silva 1PKandy : Richard Dharmapala 1T, Damith Dissanayake 1T, Danushka Ranjan 1T, Srinath Sooriyabandara 1T, Thilina Wijesinghe 1P, 1DG