The two undefeated sides in the ongoing Dialog Rugby league, Havelocks SC and Navy SC faced-off against each other in their round 1 fixture at Havelock Park this evening. In a game where both teams threw everything except for the kitchen sink at each other, Havelocks came out victorious 26 points to 19 thus maintaining their unbeaten tag this season.
Havelocks kicked off the evening’s proceedings attacking the club house end and had the opportunity of collecting points in as early as the 1st minute when referee Dinka Peiris penalized the Sailors for an infringement at the break down. Dulaj Perera duly obliged bisecting the uprights from 35 meters out.
However the early lead only lasted a mere 2 minutes, as Navy’s full-back Thilina Rathnayake leveled the scores with a similar penalty from 30 meters out for his team (HSC 03 – Navy 03).
Both teams struggled with the high ball while handling skills too were left to be desired and inadequate for two champion sides. Amidst all the fits and stops Thilina Rathnayake fired across another 30 meter penalty which gave Navy a slender 3 point lead by the 15th minute. (HSC 03 – Navy 06) 5 minutes later Rathnayake attempted an ambitious 45 meter penalty kick but this time his attempt lacked the distance.
Continuity of play was scarce with both teams unable to structure more than 4 phases but the home team showed signs of promise, starting to build up play through their forwards. Havelocks soon found themselves in their opponents 22′ and opted to go direct using their forwards to pierce the Navy defense. The lack of discipline at the breakdown was starting to dominate the game and Navy’s captain Roshan Ranasinghe was shown yellow after his team was warned for repeated infringements at the breakdown. With a one man advantage and parked inside their opponents 22′ the hosts were in the ascendency but against the run of play it was the Sailors who scored in the 35th minute. Dulaj Perera showed a bit of hesitancy to pass the ball out wide and when tackled he lost possession of the ball. Saliya Handapangoda was the first to react as he collected and sprinted 40 meters before kicking ahead. Havelocks did manage to collect the loose ball but full-back Mithun Hapugoda’s kick across only found the wanting hands of a blue jersey. The ball was sent out wide and Dulanjana Wijesinghe managed to find loophole in the back pedaling Havelocks defense to score under the posts. Rathnayake added the easy extras as Navy went into the break with a 10 point lead.
Half Time: Havelock SC 03 – 13 Navy SC
The hosts started the 2nd half, the better of the two but some good cover defense kept the dangerous backs of the home team at bay. Dulaj Perera who has been in fine form with his kicking game throughout this season reduced the lead through a fabulous 35 meter penalty from an acute angle (HSC 06 – Navy 13).
Havelocks kept piling on the pressure and 5 minutes later flanker Shenal Deelaka managed to ground the ball on the try line, forcing his way through the Navy defense from close range. Dulaj was on target with his kick yet again as Havelocks leveled the scores (HSC 13 – Navy 13).
Navy however regained the lead a couple of minutes later through the boot of Rathnayake who slotted through another penalty but the lead didn’t last long as Dulaj maintained his 100% conversion rate with another fantastic penalty kick of his own on the 55th minute. (HSC 16 – Navy 16).
Navy had a couple of opportunities to take back the lead through a simple kick at goal when they entered Navy half twice and were awarded penalties on both occasions only to be let down by their game management as they opted for the line out and came away empty handed on both occasions. The hosts who withered a brief storm by the Sailors came storming into opposition territory and their aggression reaped them reward in a form of a penalty. Dulaj Perera was once again on target as Havleocks went ahead by 3 points. (HSC 19 – Navy 16).
Having missed out on the easy 3 pointer on offer in two previous occasions, the Sailors opted for the 3 points when they were awarded a penalty in the 75th minute. Rathnayake’s kick was spot on as Navy leveled the scores at 19 all. But the decisive moment of the game came in the dying moments when Havelocks scored the match winning try through their talisman Sudarshana Muthuthanthri. The havies forwards tried their best to power their way through but met with stiff resistance. Replacement scrum half Rahul De Silva’s quick thinking saw him switch play drawing the defense before releasing Muthuthanthri to fall over beside the posts. Perera was successful with the simple conversion as the hosts were managed to see out the remaining couple of minutes and get themselves over the finish line. The win cements Havelocks position at the top of the league standings and they will try to complete their round one fixture list on an unbeaten tag when they take on the defending champions Kandy SC next week.
Full Time: Havelock SC 26 – 19 Navy SC
Referee: Dinka Peiris
ThePapare Player of the match: Sharo Fernando
Havelocks 26 (03)
Tries: Shenal Deelaka, Sudarshana Muthuthanthri
Conversions: Dulaj Perera (02)
Penalties: Dulaj Perera (04)
Navy 19 (13)
Tries: Dulanjana Wijesinghe
Conversions: Thilina Rathnayake
Penalties: Thilina Rathnayake (04)